Since delving into the world of separate sleeping, a relationship dynamic has consistently confused me.
To explain this confusion, I’m going to step you through the thought path that leads me to contort an expression of equal parts anger, frustration, confusion and frustration. (I would take a picture, but I don’t think it would do me any favours)
Personally, trying to make sure I get enough sleep each night is a non-negotiable. It’s not that I have to make a daily deal with myself or others to get the sleep I need (and to be honest, want), I just prioritise sleep every day. Give or take unforeseen and intermittent disruptions.
A recent three-part series on sleep in the New Yorker (see post Three sleep reads…) investigated falling asleep, the benefits of doing so, and the down sides of not. It’s always the risks that people open themselves up to by not getting enough sleep that leaves me shaking my head in sheer disbelief.
Why would anyone expose themselves to such a wide and alarming range of health risks when the ability to avoid such is well within their control? As the author of the New Yorker articles, Maria Konnikova, notes
We systematically undervalue sleep, and yet it is fundamental to our present and future performance. And unlike most anything else, sleep is one of the few things we have to do ourselves. No one can do it for you.
The voices who ‘shout’ about ensuring we all have enough sleep each night are growing louder. A link between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s disease is becoming apparent, as is a lack of sleep and some cancers. And we’ve known for years about the link of sleep deprivation and weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure and strokes.
So faced with such irrefutable, scientific evidence, can someone out there explain to me how a person in a partnership can insist on sharing a bed if their partner’s sleep is disturbed by doing so?
If there is someone who loves and cares for you, but demands that you put yourself at risk to conform to a social behaviour that suits them, or makes them feel comfortable, or loved, or valid, or valued, or maybe more important than you – how is that fair? How is that an expression of love?
This is the disconnection that GENUINELY leaves me confused.
For me, any healthy relationship involves some good old fashioned give and take. I might want something – but if it’s going to have a significant impact on my husband, I am reluctant to push him to do it. This stretches from food, social activities, movies, TV shows, even chores around the house. I always ask myself – just because I want it, why does another person HAVE to do what I want, if they really don’t want to? What’s the benefit from that dynamic?
The partner who stays in the shared sleeping space, sacrificing their sleep (and health) presents me with equal confusion.
Think of it this way.
If you really love someone, wouldn’t you want them to be with you for as long as possible? Wouldn’t you want them to stay healthy and happy so you can both enjoy many years together? By depriving them of sleep, you are risking their health, and potentially shortening their life.
Can you see the problem?
Can you see the disconnection again?
Are you as confused as I am now?