Is a different sleeping pattern affecting your relationship?

Taryn Davies
Published: June 11, 2015

Three-quarters of British couples consistently go to bed at different times to their other half, recent research has revealed.

But what kind of effect does this have on your relationship? We speak to two experts to get their opinion on the matter.

The detailed study found that heavy workloads, differing office hours and busy social lives are diminishing the traditional image of couples getting ready for bed at the same time and clambering into bed in unison.

The study, commissioned by bed-make Warren Evans, found that many couples go to bed alone on up to four times every week because their other half is either out, at work, dealing with work issues via email or looking at the internet downstairs.

Should you be worried?

But relationship psychologist, Mairead Molloy says you shouldn’t necessarily be worried about this:

“If a couple is in a strong and healthy relationship, going to bed at different times is not a problem. If couples are naturally in a different night time routine, for example reading before bed v. watching TV, this is simply a matter of personal preference. Most people identify themselves as night owls or early birds and they do say opposites attract.”

But she explains that you should definitely think twice about heading to bed alone if there’s some tension:

“However, if going to bed at different times is due to arguments every day, the relationship clearly needs to be worked on. In this instance, the fundamental issues must be resolved as opposed to focusing on the less significant side-effect of different bedtimes.”

The research indicated that having a different sleeping pattern can have a bad effect on the relationship by causing arguments and short tempers when you're woken up by your partner coming to bed later.

How your sleeping pattern can affect your relationship

Dating & Relationship Coach for Women India Kang wants people to be aware of the impact that heading to bed at different times can have on your relationship:

“Firstly it has the potential to affect your sex life. If one of you is always asleep when the other wants sex – this can impact your marriage.  I would encourage the couple to try and have sex earlier and not leave it until one partner is too tired.  The other way it can impact your marriage is if one person tries to change the other to fit in with his/her routine.  Forcing someone to go to bed early or vice versa will backfire and may cause resentment.  Don’t try and change the other person.”

So what can you do to change this?

Kang explains: “You have to apply some maturity and handle the problem like a grown up.

“Firstly it only needs to change if it’s causing problems. It’s only a problem if you make it a problem. Marriage requires maturity, working around your sleep time differences in a mature way will certainly help build a better marriage.

“You can’t actually change the other person. Forcing someone to stay up late or go to bed early is tough. It’s much better if  the couple work together to make adjustments, it could mean something as simple as changing routines over the weekends or on days when they have more time. It all depends on their individual schedules and circumstances.”

Healthy sleeping routine

So when we asked both experts their opinion on a healthy sleeping routine, they replied:

Kang: “We are all different; it’s healthy to recognise that we can’t change the other person. What works for one couple won’t work for the other especially if for example one of you works night shifts. All you can do is adjust, accept and do the best you can.

“The healthiest routine for any couple is to live and let live, work and adjust to each other’s differences in a mature and calm manner.”

Molloy: “I think this one can be kept short and sweet - always say goodnight even if there has been an argument. Life is too short.”