How to Keep Sleep from Ruining Your Relationship
While these unconscious habits may be infuriating to you, they're also taking their toll on the partner who wakes up with a sore jaw or molars with hairline cracks. Persuade your nocturnal teeth-clencher or gnasher to get a mouth guard, and remind him to wear it every night (both he and his dentist will thank you). A snoring spouse can be dealt with proactively or in the heat of the moment. Dittami says people tend to snore more when falling asleep, so if you're a sound sleeper, try to get to bed ahead of him. If he starts up during the night, you probably already know that you should nudge him off his back and onto his side. Dittami says the key is to do this immediately, at first wheeze, because the longer you wait, listen and stew, the harder it will be to fall back asleep. Most people change body position every 40 minutes or so during the night, so once he's in place, Dittami suggests propping a pillow against his back to keep him from rolling over.
"He sleeps—or pretends to—through wailing kids, mystery crashes and potential burglars, so I'm always the one who has to get up and investigate."
A British study ranking the sounds most likely to wake people found that a crying baby was number one for women but didn't even break into the top 10 for men (though car alarms, howling wind and buzzing flies did). Women were also more sensitive to dripping taps and commotions outside. It helps to hear he's not faking, but that still doesn't relieve you of nighttime surveillance duty. Dittami says this issue comes up all the time with couples, but the solution falls outside his area of expertise, so we called licensed marriage and family therapist Diane Gehart, PhD. She strongly advises that you wait until the next day, when you're both alert and rational, to explain the situation and ask for your partner's help in finding a solution. One suggestion: Explain that he'll probably have better luck than you calming a fretful child because therapists like Gehart say fathers tend to get less nighttime push-back than mothers. As for the unexplained noises, keep track of what's bothering you and come up with a plan that doesn't involve sending your husband downstairs five times a night to check for intruders. Noise machines block thumping air conditioners, alarm systems provide peace of mind and a dog can act as an extra set of ears, especially if it's kept close to you. "Pet trainers have told me that it's better to put a guard dog in your home than out in the yard, where it can be distracted or tricked," Gehart says.
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