First question, do you and your spouse go to bed at the same time? Second question, do you have a set bedtime? And last question, would you like to know how you can use bedtime to connect with your spouse and strengthen your marriage? Research has shown that 75% of couples are not going to bed at the same time. Maybe you're one of those couples, but why should you care?
Researcher Jeffry Larson found that: "Couples whose wake and sleep patterns were mismatched (e.g., an evening person married to a morning person) reported significantly less marital adjustment, more marital conflict, less time spent in serious conversation, less time spent in shared activities and less frequent sexual intercourse than matched couples." One of the glorious things about being an adult is that you can stay up as late as you want and sleep in as late as you want, right? While the freedom to choose when you go to bed can be fun, having a set bedtime as an adult will benefit you and as research has shown, it can benefit your marriage.
I recognize that in your marriage, one of you might be a night owl and the other might be an early bird, so going to bed at the same time might not seem like something that is possible. According to the research, that difference sets you up for less marital happiness. I want to help you find a few ways to prove the research wrong in a way and help bedtime become a time of growth for your marriage while still maintaining the schedules that help you be your personal best. Because if you can make a habit of going to bed at the same time at least a few times a week, your marriage relationship will benefit in many ways.
For a large part of our marriage, Joe has been the first one to fall asleep while I sit awake late into the night working on homework or blog projects. But I can honestly say that for 90% of the nights since we got married, we have gone to bed at the same time. Some nights I've stayed up later, listening to Joe and Howie snore for hours while I type furiously on my computer next to them, trying to get a school assignment submitted or to finish editing my blog post for the next day. And sometimes I stay up watching Instagram stories or a few episodes of my current Netflix binge. Ok, so I'm almost always the one who is up way too late... But we make a point to turn off the lights, brush our teeth, change into our pajamas, wind down and climb into bed together each night.
I'll be completely honest, we watch a lot of Netflix after we've gone to bed, and there isn't a lot of pillow talk in our relationship. Joe falls asleep if we try to talk after we've climbed into bed. It's nothing personal, the comfiest spot in our house just isn't his best setting for conversation, especially at the end of a long day. We've got other rituals for connecting conversation, like our rooftop rendezvous. Having a TV in the bedroom is also something that isn't suggested and it's something that I'm leaning toward getting rid of. Every marriage is different, no marriage is perfect and there's always room for improvement. Although we are good about going to bed at the same time, I know that there are things about our routine that could stand to be adjusted. Look at your own bedtime routine and discuss what things you could change to make bedtime more beneficial for your marriage.
NO PHONES - Couples who look at their phones while talking with each other experience lower relationship satisfaction. I know a lot of couples who have gotten into the habit of putting their phones to bed on the kitchen counter or in a room other than their bedroom. This eliminates the temptation to use your phone at bedtime or spend your waking moments scrolling through social media.
STAY CLOSE - Research shows that couples who sleep less than an inch apart are more content with their relationship. If cuddling while you sleep isn't your thing, hold hands while you fall asleep instead.
GO TO BED EARLY - Rather than starting your bedtime routine when you're tired and ready to sleep, start it half an hour to an hour earlier so that you are awake and alert and ready to connect with your spouse through conversation or physical intimacy.
SHARE A WIND DOWN RITUAL - Did you know that screen time before you go to bed can keep you from falling asleep and sleeping well? Experts suggest that you turn off screens (phones, TV, tablets, etc.) at least an hour before you go to sleep. Instead of watching Netflix at the end of the night, try reading a book together, putting a puzzle together, talking about your day or listening to music or podcasts.
Challenge: Decide together what time you will go to bed each night and make a goal to stick to that time at least two days over the next week, then three days the week after. If there isn't anything keeping the two of you from going to bed at the same time every single night, work up to seven days a week. If you are one of those couples with a night owl and an early bird, do everything that you can to make shared bedtime a priority as often as possible.
I will be sharing our bedtime routine changes and how they have helped us over on Instagram over the next few months.