Home Mental Health & Well-Being Early Bird Meets Night Owl: How Couples Can Align Their Sleeping Patterns

Early Bird Meets Night Owl: How Couples Can Align Their Sleeping Patterns

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Chronotypes refer to our preference for the timing of our sleep-wake pattern. Sleep experts consider chronotypes as the horoscopes of sleep, with individuals trying to map out what type of sleeper they are across a broad spectrum. 

While some sleep researchers have broken down chronotypes according to animal patterns, a resident sleep expert at Bensons for Beds, Dr Sophie Bostock, says: “Some people wake naturally close to dawn; they are often called early birds or morning chronotypes.

“Some people don’t feel sleepy until midnight or later and struggle to wake up early; they are called night owls, evening or delayed chronotypes. Chronotypes exist on a continuum with around 20% of people at the extremes, and most people somewhere in between as intermediates.”

Living alone makes it easy to adapt to your personal sleeping style; however, living with a partner on a different sleeping pattern, or chronotype, can greatly impact relationships. If members of a couple have different preferences for wake-up and bedtimes, it can lead to tension, disagreements and conflict – especially when one or both members become sleep-deprived. 

Dr Sophie advises the following for couples to build a shared routine and align their sleeping chronotypes: “If you are a night owl and you want to change your body clock to become more of an early bird, research shows that you can do this by increasing exposure to early daylight and reducing exposure to artificial light at night.”

Other measures to shift your body clock forward, for example, by two hours

  • Set an alarm to wake up at the same time every day, two hours earlier.
  • Eat breakfast each morning within an hour of waking.
  • Exercise in the morning.
  • Eat lunch at the same time every day.
  • Eat your evening meal at least three hours before bed.
  • Avoid bright lights at least two hours before bed.
  • Go to bed at a similar time each night–aim for a minimum of eight hours in bed to allow yourself to get at least seven hours of sleep.

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