For better, for worse – sleeping happily ever after

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For most, sleeping in the same bed or at least in the same room is an unwritten rule of wedded bliss as most couples do not pro-actively discuss the issue prior to agreeing to live and sleep together for the rest of their days. A dispute may arise early on whilst adding bedding to your wedding registry or a few years after walking down the aisle as often circumstances change bringing changing sleeping habits with them: weight gain can lead to snoring, an underlying sleep disorder can be aggravated by a stressful event, pregnancy can lead to multiple bathroom trips and difficulty getting comfortable, surgery may dictate a specific sleep posture and raising kids may mean the end of, what once might have been, a fairytale sleeping arrangement.

The good news is that there is no evidence that to be successful life partners you must successfully sleep in the same bed - although I do think that compromise, communication and negotiation are skills are needed for both a good relationship and a good night's sleep. The most important factor is that both partners are comfortable and accepting of the necessary sleeping arrangements. We are all unique individuals who need 7.5 - 9 hours quality sleep to perform at our best. Sleeping together may result in one or both partners developing moodiness, poor memory and difficulty coping with stress. Now that sounds like a recipe for a disaster! Imagine a moody man who cannot remember what his wife asked him to pick up on the way home from the shops or a wife who keeps bursting into tears at work because she just can't cope with the pressure.

Here are some tried and tested sleep strategies designed to ensure quality sleep and a quality relationship through whatever sleep season you find yourselves in.

1. When two become one - Try combining two single mattresses onto one king size base. This prevents you from feeling your partners tossing and turning and can allow for different mattress firmness for each of you.

2. One bed, two duvets - Each partner has their own bedding but sleeps in the same bed. This allows partners with different duvet/blanket/body heat preferences the opportunity to sleep at their perfect temperature, next to their partner.

3. Two beds, two rooms - Separate rooms may be essential if one partner's noise or activity is interfering with the others sleep. This is also required if one partner is ill, recovering from surgery and/or receiving nursing care at home. Raising children often requires that parents take shifts caring for infants or sick children. 'Musical beds' is a common coping strategy so that at least most of the family members' sleep needs are met each night.

If you do land up sleeping apart, aim to stay on the same schedule as far as possible so that there are plenty of opportunities for intercourse. Reassure each other often of your love and commitment for one another despite sleeping apart.

"Your bed or mine tonight, honey?"

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