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Two in a Bed -- Book Review

The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing

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Photo Credit: ©State University of New York Press
by Paul C. Rosenblatt.
Published in 2006 by State University of New York Press.

In Two in a Bed, author Paul Rosenblatt talks about the many issues couples have to deal with in order to sleep together. Although directed primarily at mental health professionals and researchers, married couples will find a sense of realizing they aren't alone in fussing with one another about the covers, snoring, and temperature in the room!

The book includes the questions asked during the interviews, references and an index.

Chapters and Quotes

Forming the Couple System: Learning to Share a Bed
The Bed
Going to Bed
Activities in the Transition from Awake to Sleep
Temperature Preferences
Talking and Touching
Anger and the Couple Bed
Illness and Injury
How Can You Sleep So Soundly When I'm So Wide Awake?
Outside Intrusions Into Couple Sleep Bathroom Trips, Tossing and Turning, Restless Legs, Sleep Talking, Grinding Teeth, and Nightmares
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Safety, Intimacy, and Why Couples Sleep Together
Waking Up in the Morning
Everyday Life and the Couple System

"An important part of learning how to sleep together, both at first and over the years, is for the partners to teach one another what they need and want in order to sleep comfortably." (page 17)

"So getting along while sharing a bed is partly a matter of becoming aware of differences and then dealing with them." (page 19)

"This book shows that shared routines are vitally important when it comes to couple sleeping." (page 194)

"Couple sleeping is not a constant over the couple relationship course. The couple must adapt to the individual changes." (page 194)

"Sleep is a window into a couple's life." (page 196)

Reasons Couples Want to Sleep Together and The Importance of the Bed

  • Safety
  • Cuddling
  • Warmth
  • Security
  • To talk
  • Sex
  • Companionship
  • Belief they sleep better when together

Couples should not discount the importance of having a bed that is suitable to both of them. Not only is the size of the bed important to agree on, but a couple also needs to discuss the bedding, how the bed is made, who sleeps on which side, tucking in the ends of the blankets, and how the bed is used during the day.

Some couples set a rule that the last one out of the bed has to make it.

Deciding on Which Side of the Bed to Sleep On

Preferences as to which side of the bed a spouse wants to sleep can depend on several factors:
  • The side that the individual slept on before getting married.
  • If a bit claustrophobic, the side closer to the door is important to some spouses.M.ku<

  • Some men prefer the side closer to the door in order to protect their wives.
  • Many individuals prefer sleeping on the side of the bed that is closer to the bathroom.
  • Another reason for sleeping on the side of the bed closer to the door is to be able to more easily hear the children or respond to their night time needs.
  • If a spouse has a painful shoulder or leg or stiffness, they may have a preference as to which side of the bed they want to sleep on in order to avoid more pain.
  • Some people prefer the side of the bed that is the warmest or away from a window.

"Many couples spoke of how important the connection that centers on sleeping together was for them. It was a time for connection, intimacy, pleasure, and feeling comfortable together." (page 10)

Going to Bed

Whenever you go to bed, either together or separately, is pretty normal. Some individuals prefer going to bed first to have some private time alone in bed. Others prefer to stay up later so they have time to get things done on the computer or to read.

Many couples have a nightly bedtime routine which includes brushing teeth, washing face, etc., letting dogs out, security check of making sure doors are locked, windows closed, and stove turned off.

A nightly routine can also include prayer, watching television, reading in bed, and sexual intercourse.

"So bedtime is not just about sleep. It is about renewing and maintaining the couple relationship. It can be the one time when partners learn what has been going on with one another, plan, make decisions, deal with disagreements, solve problems, provide necessary information, and put words to their realities. Bedtime contact seemed crucial to maintaining the relationship of many couples I interviewed ... Sleeping takes up a quarter to a third of most lives." (pages 9-10)

Suggestions for Snoring Issues and Temperature Preferences

Here are some of Rosenblatt's suggestions for coping when snoring interferes with sleep:
  • Snorer should lose weight.
  • Snorer should reduce alcohol intake.
  • Snorer could try taking decongestant or antihistamine pills.
  • The non-snorer can go to sleep before the snorer.
  • The non-snorer can nudge the snorer.
  • Snorer should not sleep on his/her back.
  • The non-snorer should talk to sleeping snorer.
  • The non-snorer should try ear plugs.
  • The non-snorer can sleep in a separate room.
  • Snorer can talk to physician about surgery possibilities.
  • The non-snorer can try to quickly interfere with snorer's breathing by pinching nose and covering mouth for a second or two.

When couples prefer having different temperatures in a bedroom, they have to find ways to work together to make the room comfortable enough so they can both sleep. Having separate covers is a method used by many couples, along with having an electric blanket with dual controls.

Window wars and thermostat wars may still occur, with couples sneaking to change the the thermostat or to slightly open or close a window.

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