How to Sleep Safely With Spouses Who Thrash in Their Sleep

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How to Sleep Safely With Spouses Who Thrash in Their Sleep
Those who thrash in their sleep often need to sleep alone. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Thrashing about during sleeping, especially if energetic or violent, is dangerous to those who share the bed with the thrasher and may be a sign of a complicated disorder. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, which affects middle-age to elderly people and is associated with neurological degeneration and diseases such as Parkinson's, is one of these. In REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, the sleeper physically acts out the scene of her dreams, meaning she may even punch or kick while in bed. For spouses or others who share beds with violent or energetic thrashers, not sleeping in the same bed as the person may be necessary until the underlying disorder is treated, and steps to protect the thrasher may be necessary.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Remove all potentially dangerous objects from the bedroom. Clear all lamps, ashtrays and other glass or sharp-edged objects such as vases, pots, heavy books and small furnishings. Make the bedroom a soft- and smooth-surfaced area with very little that can be knocked over or destroyed during the night. This protects the trashing sleeper and protects you from getting hit in the head by objects knocked over while he's thrashing about.

  2. 2

    Place the mattress on the floor and place cushions around it. Placing the mattress on the floor protects the thrashing sleeper from falling out of bed and hurting herself, and it protects you from getting kicked out of bed. Placing cushions around the bed gives you and the thrasher an added layer of protection if either of you are displaced from the mattress.

  3. 3

    Sleep in separate beds. For those with a violently thrashing spouse or partner, this may be necessary until he gets medical treatment. Have your spouse or partner sleep on a separate mattress on the floor while you sleep in a normal bed or separate mattress to protect yourself from flailing arms and legs during the night. Or, erect a cushioned divider between the two of you between two adjacent mattresses to protect you from wild thrashing during the night.

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