Highly sensitive people need time alone to recharge, even when they’re sleeping.
I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP). Like many HSPs, my significant other is not highly sensitive. Since HSPs are in the minority — nearly 30 percent of the population is made up of us — mixed-sensitivity relationships are almost unavoidable. And there are a lot of benefits to having a non-HSP partner.
For instance, he can handle noise, chaos, mess, and confrontations much more easily than I can. Generally, our mixed-sensitivity isn’t an issue since our mutual idea of a good time is similar: playing video games or watching a TV show together. He’s not trying to bring me out to loud bars or parties, and I don’t worry about depriving him of fun. We’re both introverts, and that certainly makes our life together easier!
Deciding to Live Together… but Sleep Separately
When we started dating, we were both living independently — me by myself with my animals and he by himself with his kids. Both divorced, we loved our alone time and our space. Eventually, though, we came to the point where we didn’t want to live separately, as many couples do.
It didn’t take long for us to warm up to the idea of living together with one important stipulation: separate bedrooms.
Every once in a while, I’ll mention to someone that we have separate bedrooms — and sleep separately about 98 percent of the time — and folks will ask if we’re “okay.” This is a fair question, considering that being banished to another room or the couch is traditionally considered a huge red flag for a relationship.
For us, though, that isn’t the case. Having my own bedroom gives me the emotional energy to love and appreciate him so much more. Here are four main reasons I love sleeping alone as a highly sensitive person. Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire you to try it, too!
4 Reasons Why Sleeping Alone as a Highly Sensitive Person Is Amazing
1. You can each have your preferred sleeping environment.
The best part about sleeping separately is that you and your partner can have your preferred sleeping environment — and environment is everything to HSPs. My partner likes a fan blowing directly on him while he sleeps, and that’s way too much sensation for my sensitive soul. Meanwhile, I have restless leg syndrome (exactly what it sounds like) and my partner snores. I’m also a terrible blanket thief, because I like to be a burrito. Suffice it to say, our ideal sleeping environments just aren’t super compatible. I’m not an extremely light sleeper, but I do wake up much more when I’m sleeping next to someone else. I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) — wherein I worry about everything, a lot — and I especially worry about upsetting or inconveniencing others.
So, by sleeping alone, I love not worrying that my tossing and turning or getting up to read is interrupting his sleep. When I have a cold or cough, I don’t have to stifle myself. I also get to keep my own hours — if he wants to stay up late and I want to go to bed early (as is often the case, because, like many HSPs, I need my sleep), it’s no big deal. We both get better sleep this way, which makes the rest of life much easier to handle.
2. You can keep your room just how you like it — tidy (or not).
I’m very sensitive about mess and chaos. I like my room to be tidy and mostly clear of clutter. I make my bed every morning, and my clothes are stored neatly in my closet. It’s less overwhelming for me and helps keep my room peaceful.
My wonderful partner is a bit more laissez-faire about his room. It’s not dirty by any means, but it’s definitely not as tidy as my room. His bed isn’t made — just how he likes it.
When I come home, I know my room is neat and ready for me to rest. That’s not to say I don’t get behind on my laundry — I certainly do. I find that picking up my own mess is much less stressful than trying to get someone else to pick up theirs. Having my own room means I don’t have to ask him to pick up his socks, move his recycling, or feel irritated that the bed isn’t made. It eliminates what would be a big point of contention in our relationship.
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3. You can have all the privacy and alone time you need.
Although I can close (and lock) my door anytime I’d like, it stays open most of the time. I like to feel available to my partner and the kids, and the cats often have things to say if the door is closed!
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to be completely alone with the knowledge that no one can come in. When the door is closed, I feel secure and in control of my environment. If I want to turn all my lights off and play music, I can. If I want to dance in my closet, I can. Whatever I need to do to relax and recharge I can do without any worry that I’m inconveniencing anyone (or that I look silly, though that’s less of a concern).
I can hermit all I want without keeping my partner away from his clothes, bed, or computer. If he wants to relax alone at the same time, he has his own room.
4. Your vacations — and time together — will feel even more special.
The pillow-talk and whispered “I love you”s have a special magic to them on vacation because our usual goodnight kisses are in the hallway or in the doorway of one of our bedrooms. So waking up together on vacation feels like a sweet luxury — like it did when we were first dating.
While we certainly could choose to sleep together in our own house, our usual schedules and preferences just don’t fit with it. It makes even a weekend away a source of connection and closeness. If we stay up late talking (which we often do, since we don’t have that regular end-of-day couple time in bed), we can sleep in and be lazy together. After a few nights of my blanket stealing and his snoring, vacations often reinforce why we have separate bedrooms in the first place!
Your HSP Sanctuary Can Be Your Own Bedroom… or Section of the House
We’re fortunate to have the funds to have our own bedrooms. We live in a city where housing is reasonably priced and abundant. Separate bedrooms might not be feasible for you — or even what you want. A personal HSP sanctuary can be a special chair, a nook in the living room, or an outdoor space. Having my own bedroom to escape to, however, makes a huge difference for our relationship and for me in general. It can be hard living with anyone as an HSP, but having a space of your own can make all the difference.
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