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Three to a Bed: Me, My Husband, & Migraine

Three to a Bed: Me, My Husband, & Migraine

When my husband and I dated long distance, I looked forward to living in the same place so we could share a bed. Twenty years have dispelled that romantic notion. It’s not that 18 years of marriage have killed our romance, but the need for good sleep has supplanted those idealized daydreams of bed-sharing.

Migraine-induced nightmares and night sweats make me kick and thrash in my sleep. With my temperature regulation out of whack, I throw off the covers, then cuddle under them when I start shivering a few minutes later. Even when this doesn’t wake my husband up completely, it causes him to toss and turn. Since every movement hurts when I have a migraine, when he shifts even the slightest bit, I want to scream, “STOP MOVING THE EFFING BED!” Plus, when he’s stressed, he doesn’t roll over normally, he levitates and flops.

We’ve been trying to sort out our mutually disturbed sleep out for years. The first attempt was to get a queen latex mattress on a sturdy platform bed. When that was no longer sufficient, we replaced our top sheet and blankets with individual comforters with duvet covers. We thought this brilliant idea had solved the problem. Meanwhile, my husband began talking to his doctors about daytime fatigue. He was given a variety of diagnoses and solutions. Some helped a bit, but the worst of the fatigue remained.

My husband got a cold a couple months ago and slept in the office/guest room so he wouldn’t keep me awake coughing. Despite being sick, he woke up better rested than usual. After his cold subsided, he stayed in the guest room a few more nights. His fatigue decreased even more. That we’re both suffering from sharing our current queen bed became an undeniable fact.

A quarter of U.S. couples sleep in separate beds and 10% sleep in separate rooms, according to the National Sleep Foundation. My firsthand experience has shown me that not sharing a bed, or even a room, is perfectly logical for some couples. Still, society has conditioned me to believe that only people in unhappy relationships sleep separately. To be clear, my husband and I are deeply in love. Our relationship is probably the best it has ever been. Yet when I told a friend we were sleeping in separate rooms, she looked shocked, like this must portend the end of our relationship.

My husband and I are going back and forth about solutions. We want to return to sleeping in the same room. I’d like two twin beds next to each other; my husband thinks we just need a larger bed. He’s OK with two mattresses, but wants them in the same frame; I think the frames need to be separate to isolate movement. My extreme sensitivity to odors (and possibly chemicals) adds another layer of complication—latex mattress are the only nontoxic choice, but they’ll still have to air out, and even low- or no-VOC wood finishes have been problematic for me before. We go around and around and still haven’t made a decision.

I miss sleeping in the same room as my husband. I’ve resumed daydreaming about sharing a bed with him, but I can’t deny how much a solid night’s rest goes so far toward improving quality of life. For both of us.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thisisendless
    3 years ago

    Happy I found this thread! My husband has a really bad snoring issue. And to be honest I’ve never been happy sharing a bed with someone else, even in previous relationships. I suspect he may have sleep apnea but hasn’t seen a doctor about it.

    In any case I sleep so much better in a different room. I love him but I really like having my own space. I just sleep better. So does he because I have nightmares and thrash around a lot.

    It is embarrassing though. It’s not something I feel like I can tell people.

  • Maureen
    4 years ago

    Kerrie, I have seven children. Many people over the years suggested, perhaps, my husband and I should sleep in separate beds. You know what I told them? It’s not about where you sleep;)
    Happy marriages are about so much more than sleeping arrangements and can hinge on so much less! You’ll find the right balance when you remember why you want to be together and why apart… so your awake life is better together. Work the synergy, and then sleep where it is most restful. Live the dream.

  • arden
    4 years ago

    We live on a boat and have separate cabins which makes for comfortable sleep. We do not heat each other up when its summer time either. To stay cozy and connected we go to bed together in one cabin and after all that nice couple biz, the one will retire to his/her cabin for a good night’s rest. This works for 70ish battle – weary folks who can’t afford to keep the other up with tossing and turning. In the morning the process can be reversed.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi, arden! Thanks for sharing your story. How lovely to live on the water! It’s wonderful that you’ve found a system that works so well for you both. We’re glad you’re here! -All Best, Donna ( team)

  • sarahkg
    4 years ago

    I have had a constant chronic daily migraine since January 12,2016. It has been awful to say the least. Suffering with Migraines since March 10,2012.
    I get the heat irregularities, restless with pain at night. Keep myself up, keep my husband up, or wake him up. So, he takes this time to want to be frisky. Sooo not the time! I also suffer from Allodynia, so it hurts to be touched and rubbed. My husband is super touchy feely, and I just cannot handle it. I’ve talked to him about it a lot. My Neurologist has even talked to to him about it. He just can’t help himself and it’s a constant argument. So sad that I have this amazingly supportive loving husband, and I just want my own room so I don’t have to argue with him by saying don’t touch me, and no to s*x all the time because of these freaken migraines 24/7. I just want my life back.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi SarahG,
    Thank you greatly for sharing such emotional & personal pieces of your life living with migraine. I am so sorry that you are living with chronic daily pain. You are taking all the right steps in talking to him and even having your Neuro address the situation as well in helping him to understand. Maybe this article could help you out too: Have you by chance been seen or considered seeing a true headache/migraine specialist? Here is some information on how these doctors are so different.
    Thank you again for helping to let others they are not alone in this battle by sharing your experience. We appreciate you being part of our community!
    Joanna ( Team)

  • mindwiped
    4 years ago

    Do not let this embarrass or stop ANY if you! Until my FIL moved in with us, hubby and I had separate rooms. We’d tell friends that there is a liberal visitation policy.

    It started before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Hubby has insomnia, and sleeping just wasn’t happening. Either he was up all night listening to me choke, gasp and snore, or I was because he kept waking me for choking, gasping, and snoring. We each took a bed, I settled in our guest room, and we both slept better. After I was diagnosed and starting wearing cpap, we’d sleep together more often, but he sleeps so cold he wants down bedding year round, and I sleep so warm that I’m fine with a sheet and no nighty, sometimes no sheet.

    I’d just decided I was going to repaint the guest room, make it colors I’d enjoy when we found out that the fil was going to be homeless due to my MIL’s medical bills (terminal cancer). He ended up, temporarily per him, in my room, and we went back to sleeping in the master. That was two years ago.

    I finally got so tired of being crowded from hubby playing heat seeking sleeping missle, that I went and slept on my old childhood bed. A twin mattress that’s at least twenty years old, just to be able to rest again. Sadly that still happens some nights, I just get too warm, or run out of space.

  • Noodles
    4 years ago

    The sleep number bed is expensive. We bought a similar bed from Confortaire for must less. It is a website so you get them shipped. Have been using our king for about 15 years. I don’t feel my husband since it has two separate air beds in one shell. My husband is a light sleeper and puts up with my nightmares. One night, I was doing the breast stroke in bed. He just woke me up and all went back to sleep. Sometimes I feel it is unfair to disturb his sleep with yelling and screaming I do in my dreams but he has suggested separate rooms after 45 years.

  • rebecca
    4 years ago

    I work from home sometimes and so when my husband and I bought our house we made sure we had a room for my office. He suggested putting a daybed in there, and it’s been the best idea he had about furniture. If I have a migraine or am feeling unwell, I can go in there and lie down, and this way he doesn’t disturb me when he goes to bed or if he’s reading in the bedroom. I do still like sleeping in the same bed as him, but sometimes it’s not feasible.

  • Clipi
    4 years ago

    Try a sleep number bed — each side is separately adjustable, and movement on one side of the bed isn’t felt on the other. At least it has worked for me, the migraine-sufferer and poor sleeper, and my husband.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    4 years ago

    Great suggestion Clipi! Prices on those beds seem to have come down a “tad”, but if anyone can splurge on that bed….seems like could help both partners! Thanks for taking the time to share. -Joanna ( Team)

  • migrainestl
    4 years ago

    I say do whatever works for you & your budget!! My hubs & I (married 5yrs) used to take turns going to the guest room in the middle of the night for various reasons. Since we’ve gotten a King size bed a year ago neither of us has left the bed!!!! He’s a sound sleeper so I’m lucky & I wear ear plugs so I don’t hear him breathing!! 🙂

  • Liz Flynn
    4 years ago

    Sleep is extremely important. My husband and I have been married for 32 years. Whenever one of us isn’t sleeping well (or the other is ill) one of us moves to whichever bed or sofa will give that one a shot at some decent sleep. Whatever works to keep you and your husband happy, healthy and sane is a good thing, a very good thing. Love your friend but don’t take her insecurity to heart

  • Madison10
    4 years ago

    Hi Kerrie~I can relate to your dilemma.

    Each time I have a migraine, I’m up and down throughout the night. With the heat waves that come and go every few minutes, the frequency to which I am massaging my head and shoulders…each movement I hear my husband’s breathing change which means he’s noticing my activity even though he’s sleeping (not so soundly). He’ll wake up tired the next day and knowing this, I add guilt to my list of ailments.

    And when I’m sick from the migraine, the last thing I feel like is being considerate. Yet all night long I’m tiptoeing around as I try and find some comfort from yet another long night of pain.

    I’ve talked about separate bedrooms and my husband doesn’t like the idea but I think it would help me a lot, so we’ll see what happens.

    Best of luck to you regarding your decision.

  • Madison10
    4 years ago

    Robbin – My niece who got married 13 years ago made it clear to her fiance they would have separate bedrooms when married. They are happily married and “visit each other” in respective rooms. Her philosophy – kids have their own rooms, why should we have to share ours just because we get married. I think she’s onto something.

  • Robbin in LA
    4 years ago

    I feel quite embarrassed about the fact that my husband and I sleep in different rooms. We’ve learned, though, that everyone rests better this way. You would think we all have enough to deal with without adding guilt over societal norms to the plate.

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