August 29, 2022 3 min read
While there are dozens (if not hundreds) of causes of poor sleep, one of the most common reasons people fail to feel rested and refreshed in the morning is that they simply can’t get comfortable during the night. When we are uncomfortable during sleep—whether we realize it or not—we wake up and try to get more comfortable. Every time we do this, even if just for a few seconds, we not only pause the sleeping process, but lose a bit of progress as well.
A simple metaphor would be an orchestra. Let’s say the orchestra has 100 musicians in it. What if, as the orchestra played, every time just one musician got uncomfortable, he stopped the whole orchestra until he was ready? Then, the conductor would have to get all the sections ready again, reoriented to where they were, and start playing—likely a little earlier in the piece than they were when they stopped. Now, imagine that no matter how many musicians stop the orchestra, or how many times, they have to stop playing in one hour. The difference between you having a wonderful experience in that hour and demanding your money back would be how many uncomfortable musicians you had to endure. I'm guessing you would prefer it to be 0.
So, what makes us “uncomfortable” when we are sleeping? One thing is temperature. Heat is more often the culprit, but being too cold can be a problem as well. The temperature of your room, your skin temperature from clothes or blankets, and even your mattress can be factors. If you have a foam mattress that you really sink into, then that foam is allowing heat to build up everywhere that it is touching your skin.
Another thing that makes us uncomfortable is too much pressure on our skin. This can be the result of a stiff mattress or bundled up clothing or bedding. Too much pressure slightly impairs blood flow, and when your blood supply gets diminished, your body sends out chemical messengers that activate your immune system and alert the brain.
In either case, you’ll wake up and move around, disrupting your sleep cycle.
So, what does all of this have to do with sleeping together? Well, think about the few difficulties that I have discussed above, and remember that these are just a few of many factors in being comfortable at night. Now, consider that when you sleep with someone else, not only do you each have to figure out the right combination of climate control, bedding, clothing, mattress firmness, etc. you also both have to find that comfort in the same room, on the same mattress, and largely with the same bedding. If that sounds improbable to you, you’re starting to see the problem! Luckily, there are tools at your disposal.
The rise in popularity of adjustable mattresses, and mattresses designed differently for each sleeper’s weight and preferences are due to these very things that I am discussing. There are lots of options these days, and while they can be a bit pricey, they are worth every penny. There are also various mattress toppers that can make a significant change on one side of the mattress, but not the other. There are products like Chilipad and Ooler that can cool or warm to a wide range of temperatures and have separate controls for each sleeper.
A comprehensive list of discomforts and solutions would require me to write a book—not an email. But, I hope this email has at least opened your eyes (so to speak) about the difficulties most of us don’t consider when sleeping in the same bed with someone else.
As always, your life-style, bedtime routine, and nutritional status are all important and will also determine the quality of your sleep. I have designed a nutritional sleep product for that very reason, and you can have a look at our latest offer below.
Sleep well my friends.
Kirk R. Parsley, MD