When cuddling and sleeping don't mix
I would like to be able to cuddle up to my partner at night, but I can't sleep if anyone is touching me even a little bit. I'm very prone to insomnia as it is, so it's hard to practice. Is there a way I can learn to sleep differently?
One side of the divide
Dear one side of the divide,
When someone says “sleep tight” they don’t often mean it literally—sometimes, two people just need their space. While it may be nice to get cozy with one another along the road to dreamland, it's equally as important that you and your partner understand and communicate about your bedtime wants and needs.
In any relationship, communication is key. Consider discussing with your partner what makes each of you comfortable at night. Does your partner enjoy being all over you like a fitted sheet, or are they content just resting an arm or leg nearby? Is the latter something you would feel comfortable with? Perhaps you and your partner could have cuddling time when you first get into bed, with a guilt-free understanding that afterwards, you'll go your separate ways when it's time to count sheep.
Have you tried reflecting on your need for physical touch in the relationship? If touching outside sleeping hours is also bothersome, perhaps you could practice during waking hours to get used to your cuddling companion. Snuggling up on the sofa when reading or watching TV are just some of the ways you might fit that into your day. Doing this may also allow you to satisfy your desire to be physically close, but still comfortable and able to sleep at night.
You mentioned that you had trouble with insomnia. Do you have a regular nighttime routine you like to follow? Getting into a rhythm, whether or not that includes some time for snuggles before snoozing could help regulate your mind and get your body ready for some rest and relaxation at the end of the day. It may be helpful to check out the Sleep category of the Go Ask Alice! archive for more suggestions on how to get better rest.
If after speaking to your partner and modifying or creating a routine you still aren’t getting enough rest, you may find it helpful to speak with a health care provider about ways to improve your sleep patterns. You might also use this appointment to talk with a provider about how you might be able to treat your insomnia. Making modifications to your sleep routine won't happen overnight so patience may also be in order here. Getting used to sleeping and touching together may take more than a few mattress rotations.
Originally published Jan 14, 2000
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