My girlfriend is really weird. She insists we go to bed at the same time every night. She claims she “feels lonely and cannot sleep” unless I’m lying beside her. But I work best at night. I’m a graphic designer and my most creative moments are when the house is asleep. She’s really making a big fuss out of this.Please help.
Yours, Night Owl
Dear Night Owl,
Your girlfriend is on to an important, and often ignored, point. Humans are meant to co-sleep. Studies repeatedly show that co-sleeping is good for you. It gives you better rest. Not only that, night time and mornings are the most vulnerable times of the day. Entering or leaving sleep are moments of separation and reunion.
By assuring you connect with your partner – however briefly – before separating and becoming unconscious, or by greeting each other to welcome a new day, you allow your nervous systems to communicate at a very deep level.
Does this all sound all too airy-fairy? Perhaps you will protest: “I’m a night-owl, she’s an early bird” or “She snores” “He farts.” All very possible, but think about how you felt last time you woke up to an empty bed. Did you experience a jolt of adrenalin, a short pang of stress and incomprehension? However quickly we understand, that millisecond is horrible, because it taps into our primitive brain. Alarm bells go off, lamps are flashing: “Danger! You’ve been abandoned!”
So what to do? Develop a ritual that ensures you close the day together — that your partner is the last person you see at night, and the first you see in the morning. Even if this is a logistical challenge, it is worth making the effort.
My personal favourite in the evening, is sharing a three minute “Today’s best event was [ … fill in the gap],” and in the morning, a gentle kiss (open eyes not required), acknowledged with a smile.