I am a night owl and enjoy the alone time I have when everyone has gone to bed. I use the time to watch TV, play video games or just browse the internet. I usually get tired and go te bed around 12:30 or 1am, but sometimes am up until 2am.

My wife is a light sleeper and goes to bed early, usually around 9 -10 pm.

Many nights, she is woken up when I come to bed and gets very angry. At times, she gets out of bed and complains that it takes her hours to get back to sleep. She will even, occasionally, get up and turn all the lights and radio on, keeping me up until 3am or later, in her anger.

We have talked about this, and she has explained that I’m robbing her of her sleep. Despite my efforts, I still do not get sleeper until later. If I try to go to bed when she goes, I toss and turn and have to get back up. My mind wanders and I still stay up for hours. I’ve even tried taking medication to help me sleep, which rarely helps.

I can’t understand why she doesn’t just turn over and go back to sleep when I come to bed. I keep the house quiet, am careful to be quite when I come to bed. I try hard to not wake her. Am I just being stubborn and insensitive? Is this a serious issue? Can I please have some advice from others with similar issues and how they have been able to resolve them?

-Night Owl

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Dear Night Owl,

I understand this completely because I am one myself! I don’t think you are being stubborn nor completely insensitive. I just think that maybe you need a different perspective. Some people need more or less sleep than others to function. It sounds like your wife is one that needs uninterrupted sleep. On average, people cycle through multiple levels of REM within a 90 minute period several times throughout the night. The average time varies from person to person. I have a feeling it takes your wife a little longer. You know the saying “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed” in reality it should be “I woke up in the middle of my sleep cycle.” This is very disruptive and leaves most people in an agitated state for the remainder of the day. The point of sleep is to “recharge” your batteries. You are allowing your body to rest and rebuild white blood cells that help fight infections/diseases. Good sleep is important to your health physically and mentally.

So what I would suggest are a few things. Are you both comfortable enough in your marriage to sleep in separates room on the nights that your wife needs to get ample sleep? I don’t view this as a negative thing but more so respectful of one’s space and health. In reality I think people in the 40’s and 50’s were on to something! (My husband and I have different sleep styles. He lays still and I toss and turn and like to stretch out. Add two small pups and you end up like a mummy, husband on one side pups on the other-it doesn’t leave much room to move about!)  If you first propose this idea to her out of respect she might appreciate the effort. Also, you can consider investing in a Tempur-pedic bed. They can help tremendously with motion transfer. Do you have to stay up so late? If not, you can try waking up earlier in the morning that way you carve off the hours sooner than later and match her sleep cycle. Another thought, instead of over stimulating your mind on the computer/TV is do something relaxing an hour or so before you intend to go to sleep. Reading a book, sipping some chamomile tea, and/or writing out all your thoughts and worries in a journal. Doing all of these things helps your mind wind down after a long and busy day. I hope this helps and good luck!

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