Get Out of my Bed and Let Me Sleep!

By on March 21, 2016
Female lying on bed and closing her ears with pillow.

In the Disney fairytales, not only do the prince and princess live happily ever after, they also sleep happily ever after. A perfect scene, limbs and torsos elegantly intertwined in various moments of spooning and her-head-on-his-shoulder cuddles.


But some of us (like me!) have a hard time sleeping. I’m not a scientist; I don’t really know why, but I know that it’s not a choice. I’m just wired this way. I have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, falling back to sleep… you name it. And at least 20% of humans have as hard a time sleeping as I do.

For me, and maybe you if you’re reading this, it can be challenging to share a bed with a partner. But because our culture has so long propagated the image of couples soundlessly sharing a bed, it’s then easy to feel shame when bed-sharing isn’t a great option. No more!

I’m here to eradicate that shame, take a stand for us challenged-sleepers, and help you to take a stand too!


The feeling is miserable for me, when my partner’s asleep and I’m lying there, awake, for hours. I feel trapped in bed, and under-resourced the next day. Often, I end up holding it against them. They might wake me up (unknowingly) a dozen times in a night with snores, or with very normal micro movements. Even though logically I harbor no resentment, from an emotional and exhausted place, I start hating them for it. Our time spent together throughout the day has diminishing happiness potential because I’m so bitter about what goes on while they’re asleep and I’m not.



Part of why this subject can be hard is because of the impact it can have on
the other person. Sometimes when I tell my lovers I need to sleep in a different bed, their feelings get hurt. They, understandably, think it’s about them— that maybe I like them less or aren’t so attracted to them. But…


Not wanting to share a bed to sleep means nothing about how I feel towards my partner!


I love snuggling. I love waking up next to someone I care about. It doesn’t mean I like them any less, or am less attracted to them. Really, it has basically nothing to do with them. It has to do with me, how much I value sleep, and how hard it can be for me to come by.  Because of this natural misunderstanding, shame often gets coupled with that miserable lying-awake-in-bed feeling.


I want to introduce you to a concept of…


Humility vs. Dignity

..and how I’ve used that frame to free myself from the shame I feel around being a challenged sleeper.


Think of Humility and Dignity like two opposite sides of a spectrum. At one end, Humility is the ultimate version of ‘I don’t know anything,’ while at the other end, Dignity is the ultimate, ‘I know everything.’


The sweet spot of Humility and Dignity is right in the middle of that spectrum. Think of your favorite teachers. They likely had just the right balance of knowing, which is what had them qualified to teach you, while they were also humble to enough to be open to new ideas and possibilities. That’s a great balance of the two.


It’s impossible to have too much Humility or Dignity, but it is possible to be lacking in one or the other.

That’s where we run into problems.

Posture vs Collapse

Usually, when a triggered state arises- which is not unlikely when dealing with the shame of being a challenged sleeper, especially when combined with being under-resourced if you haven’t gotten enough sleep- each of us have a tendency to head into a state of either ‘Posture‘ (a lack of Humility), or ‘Collapse‘ (a lack of Dignity).

  •  Think of posturing as a puffing up, maybe believing that the other person is in some way ‘bad or wrong’ despite the logical evidence that that’s not true.
  • Think of collapsing as a shutting down, believing that the other person is of course right or better than you, again, despite any logical evidence otherwise.

As you’re reading this, are you starting to get a sense of what your tendency is?
How you relate to your partner about this is important, but what’s even more important is how you relate to yourself. I used to collapse big-time around this topic! I’d think I was broken because I couldn’t sleep, and if my partner knew just how broken I was, they’d leave me. I’d simultaneously add an aura of perfection to my partners, who have typically been sound sleepers.

Since adopting a frame of Humility vs. Dignity to this situation, however, I’ve come  realise that yes, I’d prefer if I could sleep a little better, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me!


It also doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with wanting to sleep in my own bed in service of feeling rested the next day.   But, it does mean that I have more space to be with my partner’s disappointment around not geting to sleep over all the time.


TL;DR   (Too Long, Didn’t Read)


Here are some tricks I use to help with sleep. Try them out if you’re a challenged sleeper like me.

  • I exercise regularly is so my body has a more of a chance to be tired when I want it to be.
  • I drink some version of calming tea before bed, like chamomile or skullcap, and keep some natural supplements on hand if I need them, like melatonin and califonia poppy extract.
  • I make sure before bed that my phone (and my partner’s phone) is on silent with no (noisy) vibrate.
  • I make sure that my room is as dark as possible (plus I keep an eye mask on hand).
  • I started wearing ear plugs in college when I had a dorm mate and haven’t stopped.
  • My room is always tidy, which helps eliminate stress at bedtime.
  • And I have a pillow that works really well for me. I even travel with it.


Now, challenged sleepers unite!  But first… get a little shut-eye.


Comments Welcome Below!


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About Melody Indigo Markel

Melody Indigo Markel is a relational coach from Boulder, CO. She both travels the country and serves on faculty at The Integral Center, helping to offer a variety of courses centered around human connection and relational intelligence. She believes nothing is sexier than exposing what’s true in the present moment.

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