Portland Marriage Counseling: When Sleep Schedules Are Out of Sync

October 29, 2014 by

Maybe one of you is a morning person and the other a night owl. Or one of you works a night shift while the other works a 9 to 5 job. Whatever the case, you and your partner may not have the luxury of sharing a sleeping schedule. While it’s certainly not an ideal situation, it doesn’t have to ruin your relationship, either. The important thing is to get creative and make time with your partner, even if your days and nights don’t line up.

Come up with an arrangement that lets both you and your partner get enough sleep. Although it can be valuable for couples to spend time in bed together, it’s perhaps even more important for both people to get a good night’s sleep, as sleep-deprivation can impair decision-making skills and make conflict more likely. In some cases, the partner who goes to bed earlier may be able to avoid being woken by wearing a sleep mask, putting in ear plugs, or turning on a white noise machine. In other cases, couples may agree to sleep in separate rooms a few nights a week to avoid disrupting one another’s sleep. If you decide on this arrangement, make sure you’ve talked it through with your partner and both agree that it’s best for your relationship so that one person doesn’t end up feeling rejected.

Make time for sex. Couples who go to bed at different times typically have less sex than couples who go to bed at the same time, so you and your partner will need to work a little harder to make sure you’re still setting aside time to be intimate. Schedule regular “sex dates” and stick to them. Remember that it’s also important to have time to cuddle and talk one-on-one with your partner, so if you’re the type of person who stays up late into the night but your partner goes to bed earlier, consider taking a break from whatever you’re doing when your partner goes to bed so that the two of you can spend some time together.

Find time to be together during waking hours. Although you might have very different work schedules, look for any overlapping free time in your days, and make plans to spend that time together. When you are together, don’t waste time bemoaning your disparate schedules—just enjoy the present.

Make small romantic gestures. When you and your partner are on different schedules, it’s important to make the time you have together count. Kiss your partner on his or her way out of the house in the morning, pack your partner a special lunch (or dinner) the night ahead of time, leave a love note for your partner to find somewhere in the house, or come up with your own creative ways to show your partner that you care.

All couples are different, and just because you and your partner don’t have a more typical schedule doesn’t mean that you can’t make your relationship work with open communication and some creative problem-solving.