No matter how madly in love you might be with your significant other, falling asleep next to someone who sleeps in a way that’s entirely different from you can definitely cause issues in your relationship.
After all, that’s why sleep divorces have started becoming a thing these days, with couples choosing to sleep in separate rooms in order to get some quality shuteye.
“Many couples choose to sleep apart because of common issues that can get in the way of them sleeping better, such as disruptions from their partner in terms of tossing and turning or snoring,” says Praveen Rudraraju, MD, medical director of Northern Westchester Hospital’s Center for Sleep Medicine. “However, this can also tend to block intimacy in partnerships, which can adversely affect the relationship.”
So, if you’re considering locking your partner in another room—or god forbid, exiling them to the couch!—in lieu of getting better sleep, then it might be worth it to give a different method a try.
In fact, there’s one that’s actually been used abroad for generations to help couples sleep better. Introducing the Scandinavian sleep method.
What is the Scandinavian sleep method?
Despite its very long, fairly complicated name, the Scandinavian sleep method is simply the act of using two separate duvets or comforters instead of one for the couple to share, explains Rudraraju.
“It originated in the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but it’s also common in other parts of Europe, like Germany and Iceland,” he says. “The goal of it is so that couples share the same bed but different blankets, and this helps to make sure your partner’s movement in bed won’t interrupt your sleep.”
If your partner keeps hogging the covers or moving about, then you won’t have to worry anymore!
It’s also worth noting that in order to truly follow the method correctly, you also forgo the top sheet so you and your partner each have your own blankets in their entirety.
“The goal of [the Scandinavian sleep method] is so that couples share the same bed but different blankets, and this helps to make sure your partner’s movement in bed won’t interrupt your sleep.”
Praveen Rudraraju, MD, medical director of Northern Westchester Hospital’s Center for Sleep Medicine
How to do the Scandinavian sleep method
Adopting the Scandinavian sleep method is a fairly simple process—as long as you make sure to purchase your duvets correctly.
But before we get to that, the first step is putting your fitted sheet as normal on your bed. You’ll need to remove your top sheet (aka, your flat sheet) if you want to really do things the way the Scandinavians do.
From there, you simply have to replace your one large duvet cover with two smaller ones that each partner can use individually.
The important thing to really be aware of, however, is sizing your duvet covers correctly: Each person should have a twin-sized duvet that’s large enough to wrap themselves in comfortably.
You’ll also want to make sure to place the duvets correctly when making the bed so they overlap in the center, without the blankets hanging off the side of the bed. Not only will this make the bed look neater, but it’ll also allow equal space for each partner on the bed.
Then, when it’s time to go to sleep, each partner uses their individual duvet and goes to sleep as normal.
I tried the Scandinavian sleep method—here’s what I thought
Full disclosure: It’s hard for me to fall asleep at night, while my partner can fall asleep anytime, anywhere (and yes, for that I’m extremely jealous!).
At night, I’m usually the one tossing and turning, which can make it difficult for him to fall asleep. Similarly, he wakes up more often at night than I do—so sometimes, he moves around and wakes me up at absurd hours like two in the morning.
Because of our unfortunate shared sleep disturbances (which honestly aren’t dealbreakers, just a little annoying), we thought we’d try the Scandinavian sleep method for a few days to see if it made a difference—and here’s what we found.
I will say that the biggest issue we both had was not having a top sheet because that used to add a cozy element, which we missed.
I also noticed that it was much cooler without one—which was fine in the summer, but we knew we’d need more coverage when winter rolled around.
However, when it came to actually sleeping, the Scandinavian sleep method did exactly what it promised it would do: It reduced all disruptions for him when I tossed and turned in order to find just the right position to fall asleep—and I didn’t notice when he woke up in the middle of the night on the second day of us trying the method.
In fact, he even left the room to go to his laptop in the living room, and I had no idea—this would never have happened when we shared the same comforter! We both woke up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the day and could cocoon ourselves easily in our individual blankets.
However, we both have to admit that we don’t want to do this method every day and will save it only for the days that we both have to wake up early or have extra long days ahead of us, where every second of sleep counts.
This is mostly due to the fact that we weren’t able to cuddle when we slept when using this method: Since we both have such busy days each day and not a lot of time together, we really use that time before bed to connect.
We both felt a little distant from one another when using the method, even though we were in the same bed together. Still, there’s no doubt that the Scandinavian sleep method absolutely reduced sleep-related disturbances at night, based on our different sleep styles.
Benefits of the Scandinavian sleep method
“Sleep challenges are an under-talked-about aspect of relationships: In reality, many couples quite happily sleep in separate bedrooms,” says Matt Lundquist, psychotherapist and clinical director of Tribeca Therapy. “The space allows, at its best, for sleep to be preserved with no interference from a partner’s snoring or other kinds of disturbances.”
Lundquist adds that separate duvets seem like a partial step in this direction—”a bit less disruption, a few more options for couples who toss and turn, who are sensitive to tossing and turning, or who may have different preferences for temperature,” he says.
Overall, there are a few major benefits that can occur for couples who utilize the Scandinavian sleep method on a regular basis. That said, it’s worth noting that all of these are anecdotal since there haven’t been any conclusive studies done about the method.
Couples are less disturbed by the other’s tossing and turning
“The Scandinavian sleep method can be incredibly effective, especially if one of the partners moves around more,” says Rudraraju.
He explains that if one partner partakes in increased tossing and turning, then there will be movement of the shared comforter or blanket, which could disturb the partner who isn’t moving at the time.
“But by using two separate comforters, you eliminate that push and pull that occurs,” says Rudraraju.
You can personalize your duvets based on their sleep temperatures
If you’re a hot sleeper and your partner sleeps cold, for instance, then you might want a lighter duvet than they do.
This helps make sure each person in the couple is sleeping at the temperature that helps them rest best, without fighting over the thermostat.
You can still foster intimacy with ease
“A big reason why couples are worried about sleep divorce is because they worry it’ll affect intimacy,” says Lundquist.
The Scandinavian sleep method lets couples have that intimate space together, without certain sleep preferences getting in the way of their shared attraction for each other, he adds.
After all, studies have suggested that couples view sharing a bed as a viable part of keeping a relationship strong—and the Scandinavian sleep method allows for that.
You don’t have to purchase separate beds or get a sleep divorce
Sometimes, couples might feel like the only way in which they can truly sleep well together in the same room is by purchasing separate beds or by getting a sleep divorce, in which case they may not be able to enjoy intimacy at night as organically.
By making use of the Scandinavian sleep method, they don’t need to do that. Plus, buying two separate duvets is much cheaper than purchasing separate beds.
These duvet covers and comforters are perfect for the Scandinavian sleep method
Drawbacks of the Scandinavian sleep method
While the Scandinavian sleep method can feel like the ultimate compromise for couples who have different sleeping styles, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind if you’re looking to try it out for yourself.
Cuddling can become much harder
“Many couples enjoy the aspect of cuddling up against one another as they fall asleep,” says Lundquist. “Specific sleep positions, like spooning, are not possible when using two separate duvets.”
It may not work on smaller beds
Think about it logically for a second: Two twin-size duvets can only really comfortably fit on a king or California king bed, making this concept much harder for couples in small spaces.
It can also be hard to make the bed neatly when using two separate duvets as blankets may fall off the edge of a small bed.
It can’t eliminate other issues in the relationship
“I use this method as a bit of a metaphor for the relationship,” says Lundquist. “Some measure of tolerance for a partner’s tendencies or diverse preferences is vital, but one tool besides tolerance is to create a boundary and an acceptance of different needs.”
If you find that you and your partner simply don’t get along in other areas of your life and are using sleep differences as a way to mask that, then you should note that the Scandinavian sleep method won’t be able to make those problems go away.
What is the Scandinavian Sleep Method for couples?
The Scandinavian sleep method for couples is a fairly simple method that involves using two individual duvet covers (one for each person) as opposed to sharing one joint duvet or comforter. It’s designed to help tackle common sleep issues that plague couples that sleep together, such as interruptions due to the other’s tossing and turning.
How do Scandinavians make their bed?
Scandanavians actually don’t use a top sheet, which might seem strange to some! Instead, in order to make your bed in the same way a Scandinavian does, you start with a fitted sheet, forgoing the top sheet. Then, you use two twin duvets or comforters (one for each side of the bed), as well as your preference for pillows.
This article originally appeared on Saatva and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
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