"Get more sleep." That might top your list of New Year's Resolutions for 2017. And you'd be smart to consider it, since sleep can impact your mood, health, and productivity. "For many women, sleep does need to be a priority in the new year," explains WebMD medical editor Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy. "We all know exercise and healthy eating are important for our well-being. But, sleep is right up there and just as important."
That's where a Scandinavian trick comes in: sleep with your own comforter.
Unfortunately, if you share your bed with your significant other, they might also control how well you sleep, thanks to tossing and turning or pulling on the blankets. That's where a Scandinavian trick comes in: sleep with your own comforter.
My husband and I have been doing this for years now, before we knew it was a preferred method of those Nordic masters of cosiness. Don't make fun of us, but we call it our "dual comforter solution." You can employ it too by foregoing a top sheet and instead opting for two separate duvets. I like to wrap myself around my covers, so I go for the king size, while my husband uses a lighter twin-size duvet. When we make our bed, we typically lay the king duvet out across the bed, and fold his smaller one at the bottom of the bed.
A bed is made with two comforters at the Hotel Drottning Kristina in Stockholm.
You don't have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to find yourself completely blanket free.
This set-up removes obstacles getting in the way of sleep. For example: comforter tug-of-wars. When you have your own comforter, you don't have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to find yourself completely blanket free and shaking thanks to the blanket hog you share your bed with. It's also great for couples who run at different body temperatures. If you tend to be cold at night, you can cover your heavy duvet with a flannel cover, while your radiator partner sleeps with a light blanket. Genius, right?
Recently, I travelled to Stockholm. Entering my room at the historic Hotel Drottning Kristina, I felt right at home. To my pleasant surprise, there were two comforters made neatly on the bed. We were not alone! I asked the hotel about the set-up, and employee Cornelia Hont told me: "It's the way it's always been, so we are just following the Scandinavian way." Talk about utopia. For as long as they can remember, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and Finns have avoided mid-night cover fights.
In the book The Nordic Theory of Everything, Finnish-born author Anu Partanen explains the differences between American and Nordic culture. Now living in New York as a naturalised American citizen, she appreciates what both have to offer. But according to Partanen, the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom than Americans do. They do this by making sure every citizen has the same access to education, health care, time-off, and more. With equal access up front, each person has a real chance to succeed independently. Partanen writes that "authentic love and friendship are possible only between individuals who are independent and equal." Apparently this dedication to fairness and independence translate all the way to the shared bed. Each person gets the same access to sleep, because each person gets their own comforter.
It's not just the Nordic people who support this method. Dr. Sanjeev Kothare, of the NYU Langone Medical Center, specialises in sleep. According to Dr. Kothare, "sleep is essential to re-charge your brain and is necessary for consolidating memory and improving cognitive functions, including attention span." Dr. Kothare says co-sleeping can get in the way of all that because the other person's body movements may awaken you. "Having your own blanket definitely helps," he says.
Dr. Cassoobhoy also lists a bunch of reasons sleep is important, and thus reasons why you should give the "dual comforter solution" a shot: "Research tells us that without sleep our body and mind don't function like they should. Your mood can suffer, leading to symptoms of depression. Your ability to think clearly and remember details decreases, and your perception of pain can worsen. Plus, your body's immune system weakens and you're more prone to get sick." She recommends people "take a look around and identify the big and small tweaks you can make to get a better night's rest." Easy tweak: add another comforter.
If you want to take things a step further, Dr. Kothare recommends you "sleep in the same room with two separate beds." For now, I'll compromise with two comforters, so I can have my sleep and cuddles, too. It's worked for the Scandinavians all these years, and it works for me.
Image Sources: Hotel Drottning Kristina, POPSUGAR Photography / Maria del Rio / Product Credit: Stella McCartney PJ set
Product Credit: Stella McCartney PJ set