We talked to older people about sleep. Here they discuss how their sleep is affected by their partners and pets. Several people we talked to are married or living with a partner, whilst others occasionally have other family members living with them. Some told us how sharing a bed with someone could affect both their and their partner’s sleep.
Sleeping in different rooms
Sharing a bed with someone can disturb sleep and people told us that they were often torn between sleeping in the same room as their partners or sleeping apart. When they slept apart, they missed the having their partner there. But they also said that getting some sleep is more important.
Some people slept in different rooms from their partners to get better sleep. Occasionally, this was because one of the partners had a long-term illness that made them restless in the night. They wanted to avoid disturbing their partner and the freedom to be able to get up and move around in the night, if necessary.
Juliet, who has rheumatoid arthritis, sleeps in her own bedroom so that she doesnt disturb her…
Other couples had found over the years that they each wanted different ways of sleeping. This could mean more or less light, heavier or lighter bedding, and so both partners slept better if they could sleep the way they preferred, albeit in a different room.
Val sleeps in her own room usually and told us how once she went into her husband’s bedroom and woke him up because she was upset she couldn’t sleep, but explained that he very patiently made her a cup of tea and talked to her until she was ready to go to sleep again.
Mary and her husband sleep better when they dont share a bedroom, although they still do…
Several couples stayed sleeping in the same room, even if there were spare bedrooms to go to. Once in a while, one of the partners might go to another room to get a better night’s sleep for themselves, or to avoid disturbing their partner. Peter’s wife explained that she would move into a different room if she had a cough, so that she wouldnt disturb his sleep.
Those who still slept with their partners also talked about changing their bedtime or wake up time if their partners weren’t there for some reason. People also told us they might change their bedtime and wake up routines if they have someone else come to live with them, whether they wanted to or not.
Anne, who usually likes to get up early and get on with things, may stay in bed a bit longer if…
When Daphnes daughter came to live with her she felt she had to get up earlier in the mornings…
Snoring was an issue people talked about. Either their sleep was disturbed by their snoring partner, or they snored themselves.
Some women said they found the fact that they snored embarrassing. Men talked about their snoring in quite a matter of fact way. They were not too worried about their snoring, except that they might be keeping their partners awake.
Margaret noticed that her husband snored less when he lost weight after he retired. Her husband has told her she snores, but she is only aware of it on the odd occasion when she’s had a glass of wine. Ronald’s snoring was so bad he went to the doctor about it and was eventually diagnosed with sleep apnoea, for which he received treatment (see Health, illness, and pain).
Franks wife slept in a different room because his snoring kept her awake.
Jacqui hates the fact that she snores because she believes it is something only men do.
Some told us that the death of their partner had affected their sleep. Those people who had been carers for unwell partners said they had extremely disturbed sleep, particularly when the partner had a terminal illness]. This could carry on long after their partner had died.
Joyce sleeps less and wakes up a lot more in the night since her husband died several years ago.
Cats and dogs were allowed by some people to sleep in the room and sometimes on the bed. Les’ bedtime routine starts with him going to bed, his wife coming in next, and then the cat will settle on their bed. Even though the cat snores in the night, they will not send her out of the room. Those people who shared a bed or bedroom with a pet often commented on how their sleep was disturbed by their pets.