Do You Have Good Bediquette?

So, you’re thinking of snoozing together for the first time. Try these tips to ensure you don’t keep your partner up all night (unless, of course, you really want to!).

By Bob Strauss

specially if you’ve been living alone for a while, the first time you sleep with your significant other can be fraught with anxiety — and by sleep, I mean actually snooze, complete with pillows, pajamas and cartoon zzz’s. What do you do if your partner snores, monopolizes the blankets or hogs the sweet spot of the mattress? How will your partner react when (per your usual Friday nightmare) you fend off the blue-and-green-striped goblins with the pointy corner of your pillow? Here’s a quick survival guide.

Choose your starting positions wisely.
I wish I could tell you that an impulsive dive toward the wrong side of the bed can be rectified at leisure, but who am I kidding?
The woman gets the side of the bed closest to the bathroom on the first night…
Nine times out of 10, the side you choose on that first night will be yours for as long as the relationship lasts. As Brown University psychiatrist Scott Haltzman puts it, “You’ll be shocked to know that the study of this issue was not included in the recent $800 billion economic stimulus plan, so no one really knows the answer to your question. But my theory is that the woman gets the side of the bed closest to the bathroom on the first night, and then those sides tend to stay put.”

Negotiate your cuddles.
Sure, spooning is one of the ineffable joys of coupledom, but you don’t want to spend so much time at it that you feel like you belong in a silverware drawer. Jeanette from New York puts it best: “If your partner loves to cuddle, but you like your space while you sleep, you need to compromise. Before falling asleep, spend some time snuggling together, and then agree to sleep apart.” Important note for beginners: At some point during the evening, you’ll have to utter the distinctly unromantic line “I’m going to sleep now,” but you can always preface that with a reassuring “Love you.”

Don’t overreact to snoring or fidgeting.
The words snoring and fidgeting, like the word sleeping, require a bit of definition. “On one end of the spectrum, one of the partners may be a light sleeper who tosses a bit, or perhaps he snores softly and only occasionally,” says relationship expert Toni Coleman. “Then there’s the cover hog who
The only surefire remedy for violent tossing and turning is a bigger mattress.
snores very loudly and tosses and turns to the point of shoving his partner out of the bed.” The only surefire remedy for violent tossing and turning is a bigger mattress (or even separate beds), but if your partner’s snoring is too loud to be comfortably muffled by foam earplugs, you may need to convince him to visit the doctor.

Speak only when spoken to.
Until you learn the nuances of your partner’s sleep patterns, don’t assume she’s awake and eager to talk just because (a) she mumbles something that sounds vaguely like your name, (b) she suddenly flops over toward your part of the bed, or (c) she flicks on her night-light and starts reading chapter eight of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. (OK, maybe that last one is a good clue.) You don’t want to wake her up unnecessarily, and you certainly don’t want to share your deepest childhood insecurities with someone who’s still sharing a dream Jacuzzi with Shia LaBeouf.

Don’t try to become a morning or night person.
Remember the bed of Procrustes, from Greek mythology? If you were too short, the owner would stretch you on a rack until you fit, and if you were too tall, he’d chop off your lower legs. The same analogy applies to your sleeping habits: If you’ve been hitting the hay at 2 a.m. ever since college, and your boyfriend likes to go to bed right after the 10 p.m. news, there’s no way you’re going to come to a workable compromise. Here’s Jeanette to the rescue again: “If your partner turns in early and you’re a night owl, try reading a book with a personal lamp until you’re ready to nod off. If you’re an early riser compared with your sleep partner, keep the overhead lights off and use minimal lighting while your partner is sleeping.” Happy dreams!

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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