Work, technology send couples to bed at different times
In this day and age, it is not unusual for people to burn the candle at both ends. Whether it is staying late at the office, running children back and forth to their activities or signing onto the computer late at night to work from home, it is becoming less commonplace for couples to turn in for the night at the same time.
In fact, a new study by bed-makers Warren Evans finds that three-quarters of couples go to bed at different times and three in 10 said they would stay in another room to avoid waking a partner. But, there are ways to ensure healthy sleep.
Most people do not have a good understanding of what is necessary to ensure good sleep health, according to Dr. Carol Ash, corporate director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health.
"No one would argue that sleep isn't important, but typically, most people don't realize that we need at least seven hours of sleep, with a range of seven to nine hours. Also critical is the timing of sleep. The time you get up every day in the morning should be consistent because it helps set wake and sleep rhythms," she said. "It wouldn't matter what your lifestyle is, those needs are still the same."
People are physically set to go to bed when it is dark. We have certain hormones, specifically melatonin, that increase in the body when lights are dim.
"So, if you're ready to go to bed and your partner has the iPhone, iPad, the television or the computer on, those have lights. That blue light in particular is very stimulating to the brain and it tells the body that it sees light, which makes it very difficult to get into that sleeping mode," said Dr. Anayas Sotolongo, assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Disorder Center of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
It also depends on what stage of sleep a person is in. The normal person starts off with a light sleep and between 60 to 90 minutes, they go into a deep sleep. Between 90 and 120 minutes, they go into REM sleep where it is very easy to be woken up.
"The good news is that there is more of the deep sleep in the first part of the night and less of the REM sleep. Toward the morning, there is less of the deep sleep and more of the REM sleep," said Dr. Jonathan Kass, director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Cooper University Hospital and professor of medicine at Cooper Medical School at Rowan University.
How can bed partners ensure a good night's sleep?:
- Get the right amount of sleep (seven to nine hours is recommended);
- Try and maintain the same timing of sleep every day;
- For those with non-traditional work schedules, take strategic naps during the day when possible;
- Make the bedroom the sanctuary with no other distractions like tv, computer, etc.;
- If you have to go to bed earlier than your partner, wear a sleep mask to block out the light;
- Make sure the room is cool. Lower body temperature is more conducive to sleep.