At first there’s the honeymoon period. It’s bliss, right? All the sex, all the romance, all the nights spent talking into the wee hours, making plans for your future lives together… and of course, those lovely long lie-ins when no words are needed! Ok, you might not be getting all the sleep you need right now but that’s ok, right? Because this is an exciting time. And you couldn’t possibly do something as boring as simply sleep all night beside your spouse without, ahem, some other activity occurring.
Fast-forward a few years…
And let’s just say that maybe the sheen of those sleepless nights has worn off! Now the late nights are filled with family thoughts, worries and plans. You might be exhausted going to bed, but you can’t get to sleep. Maybe this is because you’ve a newborn and you’re up half the night with feeds, but a lot of the time it’s down to slipping into bad sleeping habits. Both you and your partner could be guilty of this – of being a bad influence on each other’s sleep – and it’s something you should nip in the bud.
The thing is, getting enough, good-quality sleep on a consistent basis is one of the best things we can do for our health and our happiness. And it might surprise you to learn just how much we actually need! Staying rested makes us more positive, creative, motivated and healthy people. It keeps our bodies strong, our minds calm and our outlook optimistic. Being sleep-deprived, on the other hand, has all kinds of physical and mental repercussions, from a weakened immune system and risk of heart disease to a number of anxiety-related disorders.
Think about the last time you slept badly
In all likeliness, you wound up irritable and grumpy the next day, snapping at your partner for no reason and resenting them for sleeping so soundly when you couldn’t. Now imagine this happening on an ongoing basis. That’s the picture that sleep deprivation paints; and it ain’t a pretty one!
So for a stable marriage, get some sleep
Your health, your mood and your relationship will benefit as a result. But how can you start to sleep better? Well, start by kicking those bad sleeping habits to the kerb. For instance, if you and your partner tend to bring your laptops to bed, you aren’t doing your sleep any favours. This is because the blue light that our electronic devices emit makes us feel alert and overstimulated when we should be settling down. They also block the body’s production of melatonin (which usually helps us to relax). And so those final emails you’re sending, or the movies you’re watching, or the social updates you’re posting, are all getting in your way of a better night’s sleep.
Trust me: by making an agreement with your partner to leave the laptops – and the smartphones – out of the bedroom, you’ll sleep a lot better. Meaning you’ll wake a lot happier come morning!
Next, fall into a routine
Your newly married self might’ve balked at the idea of getting an evening routine going. But there’s nothing boring about it; it just makes good sense! Because by going to bed at the same time every night, and following a certain set of steps before this bedtime, you’ll find that sleep no longer eludes you.
Instead, you’ll be respecting your natural circadian rhythms; growing sleepier as darkness falls, going to bed soon after and waking up earlier feeling more refreshed. If both you and your partner respect this routine, well it can make the difference between getting out of the wrong side of the bed or the right one! Try it for a week. After your evening meal, start winding down for the night ahead. By all means, watch a bit of TV or catch up on some work if you like; but make sure to turn off those screens at least an hour before bedtime.
Next, enjoy a little “you time” away from your partner. After all, we all need a bit of time to ourselves… so use this time wisely! Have a long soak in the tub, or do a few yin yoga stretches, or meditate, or write in your journal – any quiet activity that helps your mind and body relax. Get your partner to do the same and meet back again in bed, where your sleepier selves will slip off into the Land of Nod without complaint.
Set your alarms for the same time and get up together in the morning; even if you have different work schedules. This ensures no resentment over one person getting to hit that snooze button again and again. Plus it means you get to enjoy the most important meal of the day together… and a family that eats together stays together!
Enjoy sound sleep tonight, and every night
Follow my advice above and keep your marriage as strong as ever. Sweet dreams to you both in the meantime!