July 20, 2024

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Scandinavian sleep method: Pros & cons

6 min read

This article is a part of CNN Underscored’s Guide to Sleep, a weeklong focus on everything you need to sleep better. We’ll be featuring new products, tips and exclusive deals all week, so check in every morning to see what’s new.

If you and your partner have conflicting sleep habits, you don’t have to sacrifice shut-eye or sleep in separate bedrooms. The Scandinavian sleep method — when partners share a bed but use separate bedding — bridges the gap between these two extremes, allowing partners to navigate different habits, needs and preferences without skipping out on physical closeness.

Proponents of the Scandinavian sleep method say it’s a great alternative to sleep divorce, which is when couples sleep in separate beds, in different rooms or on independent sleep schedules. Sure, it’s more expensive than sharing bedding, and it complicates making the bed. But its potential upsides are numerous, especially for couples struggling to get a good night’s sleep.

Curious about the Scandinavian sleep method? We asked five sleep experts to weigh in on who should try it, and we tapped interior designers for tips on styling a bed with two duvets.

What is the Scandinavian sleep method?

The Scandinavian sleep method involves partners sharing a bed but using separate duvets, comforters, quilts or blankets. That separate top bedding cuts down on disruptions, letting you hog the covers, toss and turn or get up without waking each other. It also helps couples maintain physical closeness. While sleep divorce puts partners in separate beds, the Scandinavian sleep method just calls for using different blankets.

“The Scandinavian sleep method is a way for partners who sleep in the same bed to get better sleep,” says Chelsie Rohrscheib, Ph.D., neuroscientist and head sleep expert at Wesper. It’s a particularly great option for couples with conflicting habits. Hot sleepers and cold sleepers, light sleepers and restless sleepers, and early risers and night owls can sleep alongside each other soundly — tending to their own needs without disrupting their partner’s.

What are the pros and cons of the Scandinavian sleep method?

The Scandinavian sleep method hasn’t been extensively studied, notes Abhinav Singh, M.D., medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center and author of “Sleep to Heal: 7 Simple Steps to Better Sleep.” But the experts we spoke to agree on its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Scandinavian sleep method pros

  • It cuts down on sleep disruption
  • It lets each partner personalize their bedding
  • It keeps couples closer than alternatives (like sleep divorce)

Scandinavian sleep method cons

  • It doesn’t mitigate noise
  • It’s more expensive and laborious than using one blanket
  • It creates a physical barrier

The biggest perk of the Scandinavian sleep method? It makes it easier to fall asleep — and stay asleep. “It is a myth that some people ‘sleep like a log’ and do not move during sleep,” says Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D, sleep scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. By using separate duvets, you can move more freely and disrupt your partner less. That said, the Scandinavian sleep method does nothing to mitigate noise, so it can’t help you sleep through snoring, sleep talking or ill-timed alarms.

The Scandinavian sleep method also creates two personalized sleep environments within the same bed. Instead of compromising on duvet thickness and texture, each partner can pick a blanket that suits their needs and preferences. This is more expensive than sharing a blanket, and it gives you more to manage when doing laundry or making the bed. But having more control over your sleep environment goes a long way, says Alex Dimitriu, M.D., founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine.

While sleep divorce offers both of these benefits, it demands more physical distance. “[The Scandinavian sleep method] provides freedom of sleep choice … while still allowing for a close sleeping experience,” Dr. Singh says. Of course, using separate duvets creates a small barrier and could potentially sacrifice some intimacy, experts say. But getting a good night’s sleep is vital — for you and your relationship, Dr. Robbins says. “It’s definitely worth trying if a couple is trying to work on sleep compatibility,” says Chester Wu, M.D., psychiatrist and sleep specialist.

How to make your bed the Scandinavian way

The biggest challenge of the Scandinavian sleep method is a logistical one: How do you make the bed with two duvets?

The first step is buying smaller duvets. Since you’re splitting your bed down the middle, you no longer need a massive comforter. Our sleep experts say two twin- or full-size duvets should get the job done, but you can always customize your bedding based on the size of your bed.

When it comes to styling your bed, interior designers propose two basic strategies: Buy two matching duvets, or buy two different duvets — and turn the contrast into a design feature. You can use finishing touches, like pillows and blankets, to bring the bed together.

“The biggest rule I have for bed styling is to make choices based on what you feel you can achieve every morning,” says Allison Garrison, interior designer at Allito Spaces. To help you improve your sleep quality without disrupting your daily routine, we’ve rounded up the best products for trying the Scandinavian sleep method.

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Made of cotton percale, Brooklinen’s Classic Duvet Cover is crisp and breathable — perfect for hot and cold sleepers. The duvet cover also comes in several sizes, colors and prints, giving you the option to streamline your duvets or pair complementary covers.

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Down comforters offer lots of warmth, and The Company Store’s Legends Hotel Alberta Down Comforter is characteristically great for cold sleepers. Partners can even buy two and mix and match based on their desired level of warmth (light, medium or extra).

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Pillows are a great way to bring your bed together, says Jessica Dorling, interior designer at Dorling Design Studio. Cozy Earth’s Linen Bamboo Box Quilted Shams are stylish but comfortable, so you can sleep on them at night and display them in the morning.

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Bedfellows with separate duvets still need to share a bottom sheet. Boll & Branch’s Signature Fitted Sheet is a great option that’s sure to appease both hot and cold sleepers, as it’s made of breathable cotton, available in several colors and sizes.

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Do you both gravitate toward linen bedding? Linen gets a bad rap for being scratchy, but Parachute’s linen sheets feel lovely right out of the dryer. They also stand out for their luxe, weighty feel and worn-in look.

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Casper Humidity Fighting Duvet

If either you or your partner struggles with night sweats, it’s worth investing in a cooling blanket. Made of cotton, merino wool and down, Casper’s Humidity Fighting Duvet wicks moisture and prevents overheating, so it’s a great pick for anyone who runs hot.

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To seamlessly style your bed, interior designer Pamela Nast recommends layering a decorative blanket over your double duvets. Dusen Dusen’s Aubette Throw is stylish but lightweight — easy to toss over your bed in the morning and remove when it’s time to sleep.

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Using separate duvets is ideal if one partner wants to sleep under a weighted blanket. Bearaby’s Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket is an especially stylish option that’s more breathable than most other weighted blankets and available in several sizes and colors.

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If light keeps you up, a sleep mask can make a big difference. Mavogel’s Sleep Mask feels comfortable to wear, is great at blocking light and doesn’t shift around when you sleep — a great option for couples with different light preferences or sleep schedules.

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Though the Scandinavian sleep method doesn’t help with noise, a sound machine can. Hatch’s Restore 2 is a gentle alarm clock that doubles as a white noise machine, offering a handy way for couples to drown out pesky noise and navigate different wake-up times.


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