It’s clear that getting enough sleep is important, but did you know that women need more sleep than men, yet most are probably getting less? Are also aware that falling asleep may be much harder for your wife than it is for you?
Numerous sleep studies show benefits such as: lowered blood pressure, improved memory, better weight control, and greater energy, just to name a few. The health of both men and women can be improved by sufficient sleep, but it could be that your wife is missing out on some of the benefits because she’s not getting enough quality sleep.
You can help your wife fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly by following the suggestions in this article. With more sleep, your wife’s days will go better; she'll feel more like herself more of the time, and you’ll enjoy being in each other’s company even more than you do now. There may even be a surprise bonus benefit that we’ll reveal later in the article.
The science behind the health benefits of ample sleep is clear, and references are readily available on the web. If you need convincing, I suggest you Google “health benefits of sleep” or “women need more sleep than men,” and review the articles. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the benefits, but to provide some tips for how husbands can help their wives enjoy a good night’s sleep, more often.
You already know that, as a man, your response to certain situations is different from that of your wife. In this article, I’m going to focus on some of those differences and examine how they affect your wife and her ability to sleep.
Although this information is based on years of studying men and woman, we don’t know you and your wife personally. If you’re not sure what we’re saying applies to your wife, share this article with her and ask if she agrees. She’ll appreciate your asking, and you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. I find that asking Bette what’s true for her produces better results than just assuming, and later finding my foot in my mouth – or her foot somewhere else!
One reason why scientists say women need more sleep than men has to do with their greater number of connections, and more corresponding activity, between the two halves of women’s brains. We often attribute behaviors like multi-tasking, making note of small details, and having conversations that include multiple topics, to this connectivity. As men, we’re more likely to focus on one thing at a time, discard ‘irrelevant’ details, and compartmentalize information.
If she’s like most women, your wife will retain vestiges of the day’s conversations and events well into the evening. As men, we tend not to place much importance on our daily activities. Unless some problem weighs heavily on our mind, we mostly leave the day behind. That’s primarily why, when a woman asks a man about his day, he’ll say, ‘nothing much happened,’ while she’ll respond to the same question with copious narrative and intricate detail.
Given the opportunity, most wives would be thrilled to share the day’s events with their husbands but, unfortunately, they don’t often get that chance. Men tend to glaze over when flooded with too much detail, and we don’t take note of enough detail in our own days to share. The result is that we shy away from having these daily downloads that women value so highly.
There’s another significant difference between men and women that often squelches your wife’s ability to download her day – problem solving. Most men love to solve problems, and when we hear our wives relating what sounds like a juicy problem, we jump right in to ‘help’ her solve it. That’s precisely the opposite of what she needs at the time. By interrupting her with questions we do double damage. First, we disrupt the outflow she needs and second, we imply she’s incapable of handling her own life. What your wife needs at this time is your listening.
This disconnect is unfortunate, because if your wife could ‘unload’ her day, while learning a little about yours, it would help to relieve her of information overload while, at the same time, make an emotional connection with you. Having these conversations will reduce your wife’s cortisol (stress hormone) levels, while increasing her oxytocin (bonding hormone) level, and improved sleep will result.
A lot of men find that if they can move around or do something with their hands chatting just for the sake of conversation becomes easier and more enjoyable. Any activity that puts you and your wife in close proximity, while not being too distracting is a good candidate.
Walking is a shared activity that’s great for conversation, and is the favorite choice of myself and many other men. Bette and I love to stroll after dinner and share about the day. I’ve always found that walking makes it easier to talk about almost any topic, whether the conversation is with a man or a woman. Exercise and expended calories are wonderful side benefits of walking.
Bette and I are friends with a married couple who use the time after dinner to catch up on the day’s events. He washes and she dries, abandoning their dishwasher in favor of this time together. They enjoy privacy in the kitchen as their kids stay well away, lest they find themselves roped into some onerous cleanup chore. If there’s more conversation than dishes, he’ll do the countertops while she straightens out the refrigerator.
We know of another couple who fold laundry together, and there’s generally plenty of it given the size of their family. A coaching client shared that she and her husband talk while making the rounds picking up after their children.
Grocery shopping provides another opportunity for conversation and connection between you and your wife. When Bette and I shop for groceries, we see quite a few couples strolling the aisles and chatting as they load their carts.
Regardless of how you create your daily download conversations, be it with movement or sitting together on the couch, please make these talks a regular practice. You’ll learn things about each other, reduce friction and stress, and provide a needed outlet that will help your wife well sleep that night.
Are you among the majority of husbands who depend on their wives to find whatever they, the husbands, have misplaced around the home? When asked why, most will say something like “She ‘just knows’ where everything is.” Conversely, the observation of many wives is that they can’t understand how their husbands can overlook what’s right in front of their noses.
It’s also likely that your home reflects your wife’s taste and esthetics, and husbands are generally happy to defer to their wives in this area. For most couples we’ve encountered, it’s the wife who assumes responsibility for the general appearance of their homes.
Given the above, men and women seem to be in agreement that it’s the woman who is most aware of the home environment. What many husbands don’t understand, is how aware his wife is of her environment, and how it impacts her ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Most women are acutely aware of the ideal and current state of their homes: they know how a room is supposed to look; how it actually appears, and they remember the differences.
If you or I walk into a room intent on finding a flashlight, we’ll glance around trying to locate it while ignoring anything that’s not a flashlight. If we find it, we pick it up and leave. If it’s not there, or we just don’t see it where we’re looking, we move onto the next possible location.
Many women walk into a room and immediately notice: everything that’s out of place; any object that doesn’t belong in the space; anything that needs to be cleaned or straightened, and then automatically compile a mental list of everything that requires her attention. If your wife is like most women, this environmental stimulus occurs all the time, in every room of your home. She didn’t ask for it. She doesn’t want it. It happens to her.
We call this environmental stimulus ‘noise,’ because its impact is similar to any unwanted noise that disturbs your peace and quiet. You just can’t relax, concentrate, or get much done as long as that racket is going on. Think of a perfectly ordered, absolutely spotless room as being ‘quiet.’ Anything that’s not in its place, is dirty, or doesn’t belong is ‘noisy.’ How would you like it if you walked into a room and it got so loud that you couldn’t think? Well, that’s an approximation of what goes on at home for many women.
Unless you’re blessed with a lifestyle that includes full-time help, or that everything in your home is ‘perfect,’ your wife is probably left feeling there’s an awful lot on her plate that she’s responsible for handling, and it all needs to get done before she goes to bed that evening.
Too many women leave their jobs and offices only to find themselves saddled with even more hours of work when they arrive home. Even if you’ve divvied up the major responsibilities of running your home, if the evening’s household chores fall mostly on your wife’s shoulders, she’ll be left drained and too tired to easily fall asleep.
One thing you can do that we’ve heard makes a big difference, is clearing any clutter that you’ve had a hand in creating. I’m talking about: piles of books, magazines or papers; unfinished hobby or household projects; food boxes on the kitchen counter or table; scattered clothing that could be hung up or put in drawers, or anything else that you tend to ‘overlook’ day after day.
If you’re sharing a home workspace with your wife, do your best to keep your stuff on your side of the desk and not encroach on her space. We men have a tendency to ‘expand’ our physical presence, and we can easily take over her workspace, or even the entire house if we let it. Believe me, converting a room into a ‘man cave’ is as much a gift for the wife as it is for the husband.
If you want your wife to get as much sleep as she needs, then it’s important to be her partner in making sure she gets to bed before she’s exhausted. Our suggestion is that you and your wife find a way to share in some of the work so that she feels supported and in-partnership with you, rather than feeling burdened by all that she has to do. Cleaning up the clutter is one way you can help.
A few years ago, I was on a long bike ride with a male friend when we stopped for something to eat. We were just shooting the breeze when Daniel asked my opinion about something that his wife, Charlotte, did each morning. (Not their real names)
It seemed that Charlotte insisted that their bedroom be pristine before she and Daniel left for work. That meant picking up anything on the floor, hanging all clothing, and neatly placing the bedspread and decorative pillows on the bed. It all seemed a bit silly to Daniel, but it was important to his wife, so he pitched in and did his part.
We both laughed a bit about the ‘morning ceremony’ and agreed that it wasn’t something we’d ever done as bachelors. While we might pull up the covers in the morning, making the bed was just a waste of time. What was the point, when you’re just going to climb back into the same bed that evening? Furthermore, why would we care how the bedroom looked while we weren’t even at home?
I had no answer for Daniel, so I suggested he ask Charlotte. I stressed that he’d need to make it clear to Charlotte that he really wanted to know what she thought and wasn’t making fun of her.
A few weeks later, Daniel and I got together again. He had spoken with Charlotte and was floored by her response. I don’t precisely remember what Daniel said, but what follows is roughly what she’d told him. Charlotte said, “When I come home from work, I need a space that’s peaceful and beautiful, so I can leave the day behind and just be calm. When we walk out the door each morning, I want my last glimpse of our bedroom to be one of order and serenity, so I can recall that picture throughout the day. And, when we go to bed at night, I don’t want to be thinking about having to straighten up the room around me while I’m trying to fall asleep.”
I looked at Daniel, stunned. I had absolutely no idea a made bed could mean that much.
In the intervening years, Bette and I have taught and coached many women, and I’ve come to learn that Charlotte’s feelings about the bedroom are more the rule than the exception. As discussed in the previous section, most women are far more concerned than their husbands with how the home appears, and are usually much more affected by disorder at home.
How is it for your wife? Is your bedroom a ‘peaceful place?’ Is it a room where your wife can just relax and drift off to sleep, or is it another ‘noisy’ distraction keeping her awake?
Making your bedroom the ‘quietest’ room in your home will help your wife fall asleep, and will provide a wonderful environment for her when she awakes.
Here’s something else to consider: does your wife especially enjoy vacation sex? Many women say that they are totally free to give themselves over during sex when it’s taking place in a hotel or resort. While it’s true that vacations distance us from some of our usual concerns and distractions, the opposite may actually be the case when your vacation includes caring for children.
What liberates our wives is the neutral environment of the cookie-cutter room decor, plus the reliance of the hotel staff to keep the beds made and the rooms clean. Our wives are free from the burden they feel at home, and can simply relax and enjoy themselves.
Better sex is the surprise bonus benefit I mentioned at the top of this article. Anything you can do to help keep your bedroom a neat, clean, clutter-free zone will help your wife relax when she’s lying in bed. She’ll be able to focus on sleeping, or on sex with you, instead of being distracted by her surroundings.
We suggest checking in with your wife to learn if her experience matches ours, and what, if anything, you can do to support her in getting a good night’s rest.
It may require some extra time and effort on your part, but don’t you think the benefits to her well-being and happiness are worth it? She is, after all, the most important woman in your life.
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