The Scandinavian Sleep Method Could Save Your Sleep
All you need to level up your Zzzs is your own blanket.
By Kylie Gilbert•
For many couples who share a bed, some clashing of sleep styles and preferences is par for the course. Perhaps you’ve woken up in the middle of the night shivering because your partner was hogging the covers (or had kicked them off the bed entirely). Or maybe you prefer snoozing with a lighter fleece blanket while your partner prefers the feeling of a heavy down comforter.
Luckily, there’s an easy way for couples to minimize some of the metaphorical (and literal!) tug-of-war scenarios that can cause sleep quality to take a hit: the Scandinavian sleep method. We spoke with sleep experts to break down the trending technique that can improve your Zzzs and your relationship, plus how to give it a try.
What Is the Scandinavian Sleep Method?
“The Scandinavian sleep method involves couples sleeping in the same bed but using two separate duvets or blankets,” explains Shelby Harris, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine and is the director of sleep health at Sleepopolis.
The trend has been catching on in the US recently, thanks in part to a viral TikTok from Swedish creator Cecilia Blomdahl that showcases the technique. However, the concept has been around for quite a long time in Scandinavian countries (aka Sweden, Norway, and Denmark) where the sleep style originated, as well as other places around the world, says licensed clinical psychologist and certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist Wendy Troxel, PhD, author of Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep.
Why Is the Scandinavian Sleep Method So Popular?
Beyond TikTok’s influence, Harris thinks more of us are trying the Scandinavian sleep method thanks to its “emphasis on personal space, temperature regulation, and sleep quality, aligning with the growing trend of prioritizing sleep hygiene and personal well-being,” she explains.
Indeed, everyone has their ideal snoozing set-ups, from the best temperature for sleep to the amount of blankets in use. (In my relationship, the debate is layered: I like to leave a quilt at the end of the bed to warm my always-cold feet, while my fiance finds the weight of the blanket bothers his ankles after he runs.)
These examples might seem frivolous, but they can lead to sleep disruptions that impact the quality of our Zzzs, which can, in turn, affect almost every aspect of our lives, including our workout performance and recovery. Perhaps unsurprisingly, research also shows sleep is crucial for coping with stress and regulating our emotions, meaning we might be more likely to snap at our partner the next day if we’re sleep-deprived. Put simply: A lack of quality sleep can impact the quality of the relationship over time, Troxel says.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Scandinavian sleep method could be an attractive solution for many couples.
Benefits of the Scandinavian Sleep Method
There are a few main benefits of swapping out one large blanket for two smaller ones. Specifically, here are a few pros of the Scandinavian sleep method:
1. You Can Choose Your Preferred Blanket and Temperature
The Scandinavian sleep method is perfect for couples in which one person runs hot while the other runs cold, or for couples who simply can’t agree on the ideal weight or material of their comforter.
“The relationship between sleep and body temperature is crucial for quality rest,” Harris explains. “Our body's temperature naturally fluctuates throughout the day, and cooler environments often help you fall and stay asleep. However, personal tendencies or preferences with temperature during sleep vary widely from person to person.”
It’s true: “Some of us run hot, some run cold,” Troxel says. While cooler temperatures are often recommended for sleep, “we know it's not good if you're lying there shivering in bed—it's not going to facilitate sleep,” she adds.
There’s even research to suggest that our biological sex can impact our optimal temperature for sleep. Women tend to have a lower resting metabolic rate (the amount of energy your body burns at rest) than men, which causes them to produce less heat. As a result, women may be more sensitive to a colder sleep environment than men.
Our preferences can also change as we age, Troxel notes. “Women who approach the menopausal transition often experience dramatic temperature fluctuations at night with hot flashes,” she says. “So that might be a particular period in the couple's life where these differences in temperature preferences become really striking and where sleep problems are also really prevalent.”
Bottom line: By having individual control over their own duvets, each partner can better regulate their body temperature and optimize their sleep quality, Harris says.
2. You’ll Have Fewer Middle-of-the-Night Sleep Disruptions
“Our sleep is highly dependent on our bed partner’s movements,” Troxel explains. “If you have a partner who’s getting up and down throughout the night, tossing and turning, thrashing or kicking, there’s a lot of potential for their sleep disturbances to impact the other bed partner.”
Even small disturbances, like a partner hogging a blanket, can significantly impact sleep quality over time by fragmenting sleep cycles and causing less overall sleep, Harris explains. And as Troxel points out, research shows that sleep fragmentation is a major risk factor for a host of negative mental and physical consequences, including increased risk of depression, anxiety, heart disease, and even cognitive decline.
But by using individual duvets in a shared bed, couples can help reduce these disruptions. “With separate bedding, each partner experiences fewer disturbances from the other’s movements throughout the night or blanket preferences,” Harris says. And by reducing sleep disturbances, couples using their own duvets may experience improved rest—and wake up feeling more refreshed, she adds.
3. You Can Still Reap the Relationship Benefits of Sharing a Bed
You might have heard that more couples are opting for a “sleep divorce,” or sleeping in separate rooms, citing snoring and conflicting sleep/wake schedules as the main reason to stop sharing a bed. While there’s zero shame in a sleep divorce, the Scandinavian sleep method might be a great compromise if you want to honor your unique snoozing preferences but still benefit from sharing a bed with your partner.
“Co-sleeping [with your partner] can foster feelings of closeness and potentially enhance REM sleep due to comfort and security,” Harris explains. There’s some research to back this up: A 2022 study published in Sleep found that people who slept in bed with a romantic partner experienced better sleep quality, as well as greater relationship satisfaction and mental health overall, compared to those who slept alone or next to a child.
Troxel also points out that even in studies where couples objectively slept worse sharing a bed, they often said they still preferred to sleep with their partner. “This makes sense psychologically, since sleeping with a partner can help downregulate stress prior to bed, helping us to unwind,” she explains. Cuddling—or simply touching—can also release oxytocin (known as “the love hormone”), which can decrease stress and lead to a higher sense of well-being, Troxel adds.
Overall, the Scandinavian sleep method could be a way for each partner to achieve uninterrupted sleep without missing out on the potential benefits of sharing a bed, Harris says. (But of course, you and your partner should sleep however feels best for you both.)
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Cons of the Scandinavian Sleep Method
There aren’t many downsides to trying the Scandinavian sleep method, but there are a few limitations to its effectiveness depending on the type of sleep disturbance you’re dealing with.
For example, if you tend to wake up from your partner's constant tossing and turning or their multiple bathroom trips throughout the night, you’ll likely still feel their movements even with separate duvets. “There’s likely to be displacement in the mattress, causing your side of the bed to move around when they get in,” Troxel says.
This is where two separate mattresses can come in handy. “If you go to a European country or a Scandinavian country and you are in a hotel room that is a ‘king bed,’ it will often be a split mattress—essentially two twin beds put together,” Troxel says. Not only is this practical, but it can solve many issues that two blankets alone can’t.
And of course, the Scandinavian sleep method can't help if your main issue is one partner snoring, or if you have different preferences for light or noise (such as one person relying on the TV to fall asleep while it keeps the other person awake). Drastically different sleep schedules that interrupt one another’s beauty rest—like if one person works a night shift while the other wakes up early—might also be cause for another workaround.
How to Do the Scandinavian Sleep Method
Anyone who notices that their sleep quality is taking a hit can try the Scandinavian sleep method. “Trying out separate [comforters] can provide insight into whether it positively impacts sleep quality without compromising the emotional connection within the relationship,” Harris says. “Overall, finding a balance between shared and separate sleep spaces may be a good compromise for couples who want to prioritize both restful sleep and intimacy.”
Ready to try it out? All you need to do is swap out your one duvet or comforter for two separate blankets that fit your individual sleeping preferences. Keep reading to find a few more tips to help you make the transition from one blanket to two.
Practical Tips for Trying the Scandinavian Sleep Method
Keep these pro tips in your back pocket when trying out the Scandinavian sleep method:
1. Rule Out Another Sleep Issue
If you have concerns about your Zzzs and your partner’s sleep preferences are feeling like a major sleep disruptor, Troxel suggests first asking yourself: Is it all about my partner and our dynamic? Or is there something else I could be doing to improve my sleep? For instance, are you getting lower-quality sleep because you don’t have enough blankets to feel comfortable, or could it be due to that hour-long Instagram scrolling session right before bed?
It’s also important to make sure you aren’t dealing with a sleep disorder like insomnia that's causing you to be much more aware of your partner’s movements, Troxel says. “It may just be that in general your sleep is disturbed and you're blaming your partner for it.”
2. Communicate the Issue with Your Partner
Maybe you want to test the Scandinavian sleep method simply to boost your sleep quality. Or perhaps you're trying to solve sleep issues spurred by sharing a bed with your partner. If it's the latter, be mindful about how you communicate with them about trying this sleep method, Troxel advises—even if you feel annoyed with their sleep preferences or habits.
“Approach it in a way that focuses on how supporting better sleep is good for the health of your relationship,” she suggests. “Use ‘I’ statements like, ‘I think we should try this because I find that when I am too hot at night, I'm not sleeping well, and then I can't be a good partner to you the next day, or I'm more irritable or more cranky.’”
3. Choose the Right Blankets
There are no hard-and-fast rules about what kind of blanket you need to use with the Scandinavian sleep method, but Harris suggests starting with lightweight duvets and experimenting with different weights depending on your individual preferences.
4. Consider Your Mattress
Troxel also recommends taking steps to personalize your mattress itself, whether that’s investing in one with dual-temperature regulation capabilities or opting for separate mattress pads. “This allows couples to have their own preferences met—and avoid conflict that can ensue when one person’s temperature preferences are driving the decision for both people,” she says.
5. Layer Another Blanket on Top (if You Want)
While this step isn’t required, if you’re worried about how two separate blankets might look aesthetically, consider layering another blanket on top. No one will be the wiser to the two different-looking duvets underneath.
6. Give Yourself Time to Adjust—and Keep the Conversation Going
Another great thing about the Scandinavian sleep method? It’s fairly low-lift. That means that if the technique doesn’t improve your sleep quality, you can always go back to using one big, shared blanket. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all sleeping strategy for all couples,” Troxel reminds us. But since we spend roughly a third of our lives asleep—a huge part of your existence as a couple—it’s important to problem solve, negotiate, and find the strategy that works best for both of you, she adds.
A lack of sleep can affect just about every aspect of our life, from our cognition and motor control to our immune system and memory—meaning it’s certainly worth understanding how your dynamic as a couple is either facilitating or interfering with healthy sleep, Troxel says. If you or your partner are noticing your sleep quality is taking a hit but you still want to share a bed, trying the Scandinavian sleep method and using individual duvets (rather than one large, shared blanket) could be a great way to improve your sleep quality without forfeiting the intimacy of snoozing side by side.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.