Q: Dear Meredith,
I need advice with an issue that may seem small in new relationships but I can see it becoming a big deal for long-term relationships and marriages.
I've been with my boyfriend for 2 years in a long-distance relationship. We spend a weekend together once a month and take a week-long vacation once a year. He is a caring, thoughtful, and smart man. We have a great relationship and plenty of laughs together. We really complement each other well ... except for our sleeping pattern. He's an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person. He usually goes to sleep around 10 p.m. and wakes up around 5 a.m. His work schedule fluctuates between the first and second shift, but he seldom goes to sleep later than midnight and almost never wakes up after 7 a.m., even on weekends and during vacations. He also feels sleepy around midday and takes afternoon naps whenever he's not working and especially during vacations. I'm more of a night owl. I usually go to sleep after midnight and wake up around 8 or 9 a.m. My work schedule allows me to do so. I don't like to take naps because I feel like it takes away time that I could be doing something else.
Our sleeping pattern might seem to be a trivial matter. But I wake up whenever he wakes up, and it leaves me feeling really tired. I try to sleep early with him, but find myself just lying there feeling like I could be doing something more productive. We've talked about how our sleeping pattern doesn't mesh too well, and agreed that there must be some compromises when we do live together. Maybe we'll stay out later and sleep in during the weekends. But I'm not sure if this will work for long. It's so ingrained in him to wake up early, and in me to sleep late. So my questions to you and your readers who are in long-term committed relationships with a live-in partner are: How can our sleeping habits mesh more seamlessly? Can it even be seamless? I don't think we should break-up because of this issue, but I do wonder how much it will affect our marriage when we do get married. Any advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
– Need Precious ZZZs, New York
A: This issue is made worse by the distance, NPZZZ. If you can get yourselves to the same place, you'll be able to adjust to a new routine instead of getting shocked once a month.
My big piece of advice is to invest in a king-size bed. I truly believe that all couples who were singles in queen beds should bump themselves up to king when they start sharing with a partner. It's easier to get out of a king bed without waking someone up. It's easier to drool and snore in a king bed without somebody else noticing. It's expensive and consumes a lot of space, but sleep is important. If the bed saves you from bickering and getting sick from lack of rest, it's worth it. If one of you can pull off having a king-size bed now, even before you move to the same place, please go for it. Split the cost.
Also, try to make your current situation as romantic as possible. Put him to bed. Ask him to wake you up with breakfast. See if you can make some of his naps more ... productive.
Readers? Thoughts on my king-size bed idea? Is this a distance thing? Will they find a routine when they live in the same place? Can you tell this letter writer how you deal with sleep? Be helpful.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.