We may love our partners unconditionally during the day, but all bets are usually off when they kick and steal the blankets under the cover of night. And while solutions like sleep divorces are becoming increasingly popular, there may be an easier way to save your sleep and your relationship — the Scandinavian sleep method. Popularized in Scandinavian countries, this sleep method allows you to curl up and cuddle with the one you love while eliminating blanket thievery, minimizing sleep disruptions, and sidestepping arguments over temperature.
What Is The Scandinavian Sleep Method?
The Scandinavian sleep method is the practice of using two separate duvets or blankets instead of one. This sleep system earned its name because the practice is fairly common in the Scandinavian countries — Denmark, Norway, and Sweden — but it’s also done in other parts of Europe, like Iceland and Germany.
Dr. Kelsey Latimer, Clinical Psychologist, Nurse, and Founder of KML Psychological Services, says, “Essentially, the Scandinavian sleep method allows couples to remain sleeping in the same bed while encouraging their independence to fit their individual sleeping preferences.” By eliminating a single top blanket, couples also eliminate nightly fights over said blankets and minimize the impact of each other’s tossing and turning.
Latimer’s only caveat is that the Scandinavian sleep method can only solve some issues, not all. “Obviously, it’s not going to solve bigger dilemmas that might create chaos when co-sleeping. Adding another blanket to your bed won’t solve your partner’s preferred time for lights out, the overall room temperature, preferences for phones being on or off, and snoring. Those things will still be there for the couple to negotiate.”
Benefits Of The Scandinavian Sleep Method
Couples who try it may ultimately find that the Scandinavian sleep method paves the way for
peaceful co-existence with their partners come nighttime. Read on to learn more about the benefits, or check out one writer’s experience trying the Scandinavian sleep method out.
First and probably foremost, the Scandinavian sleep method can put an end to blanket stealing and the nightly tug-of-war that most couples engage in. Each person sleeps under their own cover, so there’s no one else to blame when you feel a draft hitting your bum.
Moreover, having your own blanket allows you to toss, turn, adjust, and readjust to your heart’s content without as much side-eye from your partner who’s already settled.
Better Temperature Regulation
If you and your partner have differing ideas of the best temperature for sleep, a separate duvet allows you both to sleep at your preferred temperature without the nightly peace talks. If you sleep hot and prefer a lighter blanket, and your partner sleeps cold, tucked up under their sherpa-lined comforter, the Scandinavian sleep method is an excellent way to ensure everyone is happy.
“We know that temperature control is a big part of sleep, so this can really help to improve sleeping on a fine-tuning level,” says Latimer. Beyond better temperature regulation, Latimer notes that couples can also fine-tune some of their bedding preferences. Instead of choosing blankets or comforters based on a compromise (and making sacrifices, in some cases) to keep the peace, each person can get exactly what they want — nobody loses.
Maintains The Benefits Of Co-sleeping
Good news for sleepers who prefer sharing a bed with their partners — the Scandinavian sleep method carves out your personal space while allowing you to reap the many benefits of sleeping with a partner. Research shows that sleeping with the one you love allows you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Plus, it reduces the risk of sleep apnea. (1) And if those benefits aren’t tempting enough, studies show that intimacy from co-sleeping triggers the release of oxytocin (aka the love hormone), which not only helps deepen bonds with our partner but also reduces stress. (2) (3)
The Scandinavian Sleep Method Vs. A Sleep Divorce
A sleep divorce may be a little more radical than the Scandinavian sleep method. With the Scandinavian sleep method, couples use different blankets. With a sleep divorce, couples part ways to sleep in completely different rooms come nighttime.
“Some couples really struggle with bigger issues in their sleeping preferences that cannot be solved with this method, and when those bigger things cannot be negotiated or solved, a sleep divorce truly may be the only method to resolving the chronic sleep deprivation that can result from cosleeping,” says Latimer.
However, she adds, “if the couple realizes that most of their sleep differences are due to fighting over blankets, disagreeing on the heaviness of the top cover, or the impact of the other person moving in the blankets, the Scandinavian sleep method can be an excellent first step to see if it resolves some of the issues.”
How To Make Your Bed For Scandinavian Sleeping
If you and your bed partner want to try out this method, you should expect some major adjustments to your bed-making process. The sleep method tends to get a bad rap because things can get messy if it’s not done right. The trick to doing it right? Skip the top sheet, and everything should fall right into place.
How to make your bed for the Scandinavian sleep method:
- Get the fitted sheet into place on the mattress.
- Lay quilts or blankets on the bed, letting them overlap each other neatly in the middle.
- Add pillows, shams, coverlets, and any other finishing pieces as you normally would.
- Consider skipping the top sheet for one or both partners.
- Don’t tuck the quilts or blankets.
Other Ways To Sleep Like A Viking
Adding another blanket to your bed isn’t the only way to sleep like a viking. Other Scandinavian sleep methods include dropping the temperature in your bedroom and letting your teens sleep in.
Keep The Room Cool
Sub-zero napping is a time-honored tradition in Icelandic culture, and it starts in childhood. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon for mothers to park their baby strollers outside while they shop or otherwise attend to the goings on in their lives indoors.
While there’s relatively little research on the topic, Scandinavians believe that sleeping outside has a calming effect that facilitates every parent’s dream — longer duration and improved sleep quality among babies. (4) Anecdotally, parents believe that sleeping outside in sub-zero temperatures can shore up their children’s immune systems, making them far more resistant to germs, infections, coughs, and colds, but existing research isn’t definitive.
If you’re not too keen on sleeping in sub-zero temperatures, you can sleep a bit more comfortably by leaning into one important aspect of good sleep hygiene — keeping your sleep environment cool. And the science here is relatively simple. While our body temperatures fluctuate throughout the day, they typically fall before bedtime to help initiate sleep. (5) Our core temperature continues to drop to help us maintain sleep and starts to rise in the morning to help us wake up. The TLDR: A cool environment facilitates better sleep quality.
Understandably, 32°F may be a bit too chilly. While newer research shows that older adults may sleep better in room temperatures as high as 77°F, there’s plenty of evidence to support optimal bedroom temperatures somewhere between 65°F and 68°F. (6)
Let Teens Sleep In
As kids move into their teenage years, parents may find their budding adults sleeping well into the morning. And while some adults may have forgotten what it’s like to be a teen and bought into the lazy teenager trope, the fact is teens sleep later in the morning because their circadian rhythms — or internal clocks — shift later. (7) It’s merely a matter of biology — teens are wired to stay up later and rise later as well.
While the debate on later school start times rages on in America, some schools in Sweden have adjusted their start times to better sync with the shifted circadian rhythms of teenagers. A handful of schools in Sweden now start classes around 9 am, and teachers have reported a positive effect on concentration and productivity. (8)
The Last Word From Sleepopolis
While sleep divorces are becoming a more common way for couples to keep the peace at night, the Scandinavian sleep method may be a better first step, especially for innocuous issues like blanket stealing and differing temperature preferences.
- Sleeping together: understanding the association between relationship type, sexual activity, and sleep. Sprajcer M, O’Mullan C, Reynolds A, Paterson JL, Bachmann A, Lastella M. Sleeping together: understanding the association between relationship type, sexual activity, and sleep. Sleep Sci.2022;15(0):80-88
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2022, June 6). Adults sleep better together than they do alone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 9, 2024, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220606181217.htm
- Oxytocin: The love hormone.https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/oxytocin-the-love-hormone. (n.d.-a)
- Monika Abels, Caroline Bosy, Ingrid-Camilla Myhre Fredriksen. Napping alone in the snow and cuddling with mommy at night: An exploratory, qualitative study of Norwegian beliefs on infant sleep. Infant Behavior and Development. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163638321001302
- Harding EC, Franks NP, Wisden W. Sleep and thermoregulation. Curr Opin Physiol. 2020;15:7-13. doi:10.1016/j.cophys.2019.11.008
- Amir Baniassadi, Bai, K.-J., Baniassadi, A., Fan, X., Lee, W. V., Liao, C., Quinn, A., Samuelson, H., Tsuzuki, K., Zuurbier, M., Altini, M., Amodio, S., Blågestad, T., Buchanan, D. T., Cameron, A. C., Cavuoto, M. G., … Hoof, J. van. (2023, July 19). Nighttime ambient temperature and sleep in community-dwelling older adults. Science of The Total Environment. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969723042468?via%3Dihub
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 5). Schools start too early. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/features/schools-start-too-early.html
- Roden, L. (2017, September 13). Start school later so teens can sleep longer, Swedish researchers argue. The Local Sweden. https://web.archive.org/web/20221018022103/https://www.thelocal.se/20170913/start-school-later-so-teens-can-sleep-longer-swedish-researchers-argue/
Latimer, Kelsey. Personal Communication. November 10, 2024.