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How should couples deal with different sleep schedules
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How should couples deal with different sleep schedules

Having different sleeping schedules can lead to sleep deprivation, depression, and even marital discord. Experts suggest some ways to align the sleep patterns with the partners
If both partners have similar working schedules and yet one of the partners is unable to sleep or takes longer to sleep, it can be a sign of underlying sleep problems.
Having different sleep patterns or schedules not only has impact on the relationship of partners but also affect their sleep.

Bangalore-based Suhas Karanth (31) and his wife, Supreetha Upadhya (27) have been married for a year now. Currently, the couple is working in the banking sector. However, the working hours for Suhas are 12.30pm to 11.30pm, while Supreetha works for an Australia-based company and her timings include 5am to 6pm.Working for odd hours, the couple is on different sleep schedules and often finds it challenging to go to bed together and their sleep is often compromised.

Suhas says, “My wife wakes up at 4am and gets ready for the office and reaches back home usually by 5.30pm. However, my office starts at 12.30pm and I get back home only after 12am. Initially, she used to wait for me without sleeping till 11pm. But, due to sleep deprivation, she often used to wake up feeling tired and irritated. This also led to disagreements between us.”

However, Suhas and Supreetha have now worked out a plan to align their sleeping schedule to some extent. “Supreetha reaches home by 5.30pm and sleeps for an hour and gets up. When I come back from office by 12am, we go to bed together. This way, we get some time with each other as well as ensure we have good sleep to some extent,” shares Suhas. Since this is not a complete solution to their sleep loss, the couple ensures that they go to bed together on weekends.

Is it ok if couples have different sleep schedules?

Experts say that many a times, partners may have incompatible sleeping schedules. While one may have night-shift work, thereby going to bed late at night, the partner or spouse may be a morning lark and get up early. One may like binge watching movies at night, while the other may like getting up early in the morning and practice meditation.

Having different sleep patterns or schedules not only has impact on the relationship of partners but also affect their sleep. A study was published in the journal Affective Science to find out the impact of one night of sleep deprivation on interpersonal conflicts in romantic partners. It showed that there were increased cortisol levels and less positive emotions related to a conflict discussion in sleep-deprived couples when compared to the rested couples.

Working on two different shifts can lead to couples feeling frustrated due to lack of sleep and even affect the productivity at work. “Hence, it is very important to go to bed and wake up together at least during weekends or whenever they get time,” says Dr Roopa Rachel Premanand, consultant pulmonologist, Kauvery Multi-Speciality hospital, Bangalore.

Very often, it may not be possible, especially with different working patterns. “During these situations, the individuals can choose to sleep in different rooms or beds so that their partners’ sleep is not disturbed. Rather, they can try connecting with each other during the day and maintain a positive relationship. Going to bed together helps in nurturing the relationship between couples,” added Dr Premanand.

However, if both partners have similar working schedules and yet one of the partners is unable to sleep or takes longer to sleep, it can be a sign of underlying sleep problems. “These individuals may be dealing with issues like insomnia, OSA or may have some psychological issues. During such situations, they should communicate freely with their partners and seek the help of a health expert if needed,” said Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, professor of clinical psychology and coordinator of SHUT clinic, NIMHANS, Bangalore.

Different sleep schedules can affect intimacy between couples

Experts also highlight that having different snooze patterns can also lead to a lesser satisfaction in relationships and intimacy and result in conflicts. “Whenever the partners are on different sleep schedules, intimacy between the partners is also affected, which eventually leads to marital discord or divorce,” says Dr Asfia Khaleel, consultant psychiatrist at Ummeed Psychiatric hospital de-addiction and rehab Centre, Bangalore.

She also stressed that since sleep is affected due to night-shift jobs, individuals are more prone to develop depression and anxiety. “Manic episodes along with bipolar disorder have been reported in some partners whose sleep is disturbed. These individuals often have anger issues since their coping abilities are affected and they even reach a situation where they cannot handle stress,” said Dr Khaleel.

How to deal with different sleep schedules

Lack of shut eye can often lead to disagreements and stress among couples. Though it might not be always possible to align your sleeping schedule with your partner who either has a night-shift job or prefers to go to bed late, experts suggest the following ways to align the sleeping schedule with the partner to some extent:

1. Be accommodating

Experts say if one partner is sleeping and the other is working, they should try working in a different room so that the light or noise from gadgets do not disturb the partner’s sleep. “However, sleeping in different rooms is not a good idea as it can affect the relationship between partners. Hence, the partner can always come and sleep in the same room without disturbing the partner,” says Dr Khaleel.

2. Making quality time for each other

Individuals should spend quality time with their partner before bed. Making quality time with their partners can help in improving and strengthening their relationships.

3. Communicate with one another

Communication between partners is also important in a relationship and those working on night-shifts can utilise their free time to address each other’s concerns. Dr Sharma says, “If the partners are unable to go to bed together due to their respective jobs, they should find time and try going to bed together at least on weekends so that the affection between the partners is not lost.”

Takeaways

  • Different sleep schedules not only affect the relationship between partners by creating conflicts and leads to marital discord.
  • Since the sleep of the partners is affected due to night-shift jobs, they are more prone to develop depression and anxiety.
  • Making quality time for each other and building trust and communication can help align with partners having different sleep schedules.

 

 

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