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Improving Sleep

Topics: Couples

 

Even though sometimes it can feel impossible to get enough sleep, research shows that adequate sleep is essential to physical and mental health. Lack of sleep is associated with fatigue, mental health concerns (e.g., anxiety, depression, irritability), and negative health outcomes. Sleep issues can impact the couple relationship, as one partner’s sleep problem can negatively affect the other partner. Research suggests that sleep difficulties and relationship difficulties often occur together.  

 

 

Things to consider…
  • Learning about sleep to generate ideas about how to improve sleep.
  • Prioritizing sleep by cutting out screen-based activities before bed (e.g., watching TV, time on computer/phone) that get in the way of sleep as much as possible.
  • Resolving any conflicting sleep priorities with your partner.
  • Establishing a consistent pre-sleep routine (this could include relaxing stretches, putting pajamas on, brushing teeth, etc.), which can cue the mind that it is time for sleep.
  • Consulting with a qualified health care provider if you are experiencing persistent or significant problems with sleep.
Do you want to know more about this?

The recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours/night for healthy adults, although the optimal amount of sleep can vary depending on the person.1 The environment, daily habits, and pre-sleep routines can have an impact on amount and quality of sleep. See Skill Building below for information to support better sleep.  

Life can get busy and it’s sometimes hard to find the time to get adequate sleep.

Many of the tips provided in the Skill Building section can still be useful during short-term periods with limited sleep to help you get the most out of the time you have.  

If your sleep problems are associated with concerns such as stress, anxiety, or low mood, please click here for additional information about the Spouse Wellbeing Course (for spouses or significant others of PSP). This is a free, self-guided course for managing stress and various mental health concerns, as well as offering additional information and strategies to help improve sleep.

Getting enough sleep can be especially challenging for those who work rotating shifts, night shifts, or on-call shifts.  

  • More information and tips for shiftworkers coming soon.
  • Click here for a free, interactive web tutorial for night workers, developed by Dr. Marie Dumont.
Tips for better sleep

The following exercise is designed to help both partners identify good sleep habits and areas for improvement. Being aware of habits that benefit (or interfere with) sleep is an important step in supporting better sleep.  

This exercise can be done individually or together. If completing this together, each of you can take a turn answering the questions on the slides below and discuss afterward. Sleep information and tips will be provided. (Note: some of the information and tips may need to be adjusted for those who work shift work.) 

Below, there are 18 question slides. Answer the question on each slide by clicking either “yes” or “no” or skip a slide that is not applicable to you by pressing the right arrow at the bottom of the slide. At the end of the activity, you will be provided with a summary of your answers. For the questions that were applicable to you, a value of 0/1 indicates an area to consider that may help to improve your sleep.

You can print this summary by clicking on the print icon located on the bottom of the activity. This information can be used to help set goals related to improving sleep.

 

Steps for setting sleep goals
  1. Review your summary or consider the other sleep information and resources provided.
  2. Choose a goal(s) related to improving your sleep that you would like to focus on this week. Start small – you can work up to bigger changes over time.
  3. Discuss with your partner ways that you can support each other’s goals.
  4. In two weeks, check in with each other to see if the changes made were helpful and consider your next step to work toward better sleep.
References for this page (click to expand)

1Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., Hazen, N., Herman, J., Katz, E. S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Neubauer, D. N., O’Donnell, A. E., Ohayon, M., Peever, J., Rawding, R., Sachdeva, R. C., Setters, B., Vitiello, M. V., Ware, J. C., & Adams Hillard, P. J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: Methodology and results summary. Sleep health, 1(1), 40–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010 

Bootzin, R. R., & Epstein, D. R. (2011). Understanding and treating insomnia. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 435-458.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091516 

Dumont, M. (2019). Coping better with night work: Interactive web tutorial. http://formations.ceams-carsm.ca/night_work/

Lammers-van der Holst, H. M., Murphy, A. S., Wise, J. (2020). Sleep tips for shift workers in the time of pandemic. Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care, 20(4), 128-130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7189699/   

Luyster, F. S., Strollo, P. J., Jr., Zee, P. C., & Walsh, J. K. (2012). Sleep: A health imperative. Sleep, 35(6), 727-734. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.1846 

National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from www.thensf.org  

Richter, K., Adam, S., Geiss, L., Peter, L., & Niklewski, G. (2016). Two in a bed: The influence of couple sleeping and chronotypes on relationship and sleep. An overview. Chronobiology International, 33(10), 1464-1472. https://doi.org/10.1080/07420528.2016.1220388 

Silberman, S. A. (2008). The insomnia workbook: A comprehensive guide to getting the sleep you need. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.  

Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from: www.sleepfoundation.org  

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2021). Napping, an important fatigue countermeasure. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/longhourstraining/napping.html  

Troxel W. M. (2010). It’s more than sex: Exploring the dyadic nature of sleep and implications for health. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(6), 578–586. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181de7ff8 

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