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What To Do When Your Partner Doesn’t Sleep Well

Getting sleep With a restless partner

Learn what’s bothering your partner so you can BOTH get a good night’s sleep.

Picture this: You're lying in bed peacefully and are just about to drift off when your bed partner suddenly groans, turns over abruptly, and shakes the mattress just enough to wake you up. Ugh. You're forced to open your eyes, wind down all over again, and put off your much-needed trip to dreamland for another 15 minutes. What's the deal? Well, your partner could be experiencing nighttime pain that's keeping them—and you—from catching those all-important zzz's. Learn how to help your partner figure out what's bothering them, so both of you can snooze soundly and maximize your slumber.

"Help your partner figure out what’s bothering them so you can both snooze soundly."

1. Ask key questions.

Sometimes, people who experience nighttime pain get so used to it that it becomes normal. It may be helpful to ask your partner certain questions, such as: Do any parts of your body hurt while sleeping? Is anything sore when you wake up in the morning?

2. Stress how the problem is affecting you.

Many people will do health-oriented things for other people, even when they won't do them for themselves (just ask the parent who feeds her child organic vegetables and then has a fast-food hamburger for lunch). If your partner is experiencing nighttime pain but is reluctant to take the time to see a doctor and get a diagnosis, explain that you're losing precious sleep, too—not just him—and that it's making you exhausted and frustrated. That might be the extra motivation that he needs.

3. Mention that early detection is best.

Let's say that your partner does have an underlying issue that's causing her discomfort, like a bulging or ruptured disk that's leading to back pain, joint pain due to minor arthritis, a bone fracture thanks to osteoporosis, or a torn muscle from an injury. Tell her that getting to the root problem of any health condition and treating it right away is likely to be less expensive and less invasive than letting it persist, and she'll be less likely to experience severe complications if she deals with it now. Waiting until the issue becomes severe can sometimes lead to treatments such as surgery, which can be frightening, risky, and expensive.

4. Offer to help.

Maybe your partner does want to see a doctor, but doesn't know which kind to see and doesn't have time to figure it out. Help him by doing some research online or calling his primary care physician's office for him to ask for a referral to a specialist. For instance, if he suspects that arthritis may be what's bothering him, make him an appointment with a rheumatologist. If he thinks the problem may be due to a bone or muscle injury, a sports medicine or orthopedic doctor may be the best fit. Once it's scheduled, create a reminder on your joint Google calendar so he doesn't forget about it.

5. Explain that over-the-counter meds can help.

Nobody deserves to suffer from pain that disturbs sleep. Let your partner know that a medication like Advil PM—which comes in both caplet and liqui-gel form—contains ibuprofen that acts as a pain reliever, as well as a non-habit forming sleep aid. It can help her fall asleep and stay asleep, so she can finally get a good night's rest. (And if she has any wrist, hand, or finger pain, the medicine is available in a bottle with an easy-open arthritis cap.)

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