At a Glance:
- 35.4% of U.S. adults consider their bedmates to be cover hogs, meaning they regularly wake up with more covers or blankets, according to a survey.
- 25.2% of adults consider themselves cover hogs.
- Cover hogs sleep an average of six minutes more each night than their bedmates.
- 31.7% of adults use the Scandinavian sleep method of sleeping with separate blankets from their bedmates.
- Adults who use separate blankets report sleeping four minutes more each night than those who share blankets.
Things that disrupt sleep can be a problem for our health. Lack of sleep is linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. But sharing a bed can be particularly challenging for a good night’s sleep, especially if your bedmate is a cover hog. Just ask Monica Sharp, a 35-year-old Washington, D.C. resident.
She’s convinced her boyfriend is more well-rested than she is because he steals the blankets at night.
“He is a cover hog,” Sharp says. “I’ve taken to giving him his own covers so I can be warm as well [and stay asleep].”
Sharp may be onto something.
According to a January 2023 survey by OneCare Media, parent company of The Sleep Doctor, 68.3% of U.S. adults share a blanket or blankets with their bedmates. But more than a third (35.4%) say they sleep with a cover hog, and it’s costing them sleep. They report sleeping about six minutes less than people who admit to hogging the covers, who comprise 25.2% of respondents.
Anne Bartolucci, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Atlanta Insomnia & Behavioral Health Services PC, says sleeping with a cover hog isn’t as big of a disruptor as partners who snore or kick their legs in their sleep.
But: “Like anything having to do with sleep, it isn’t anything couples can plan for until it comes up,” says Bartolucci, a cover hog herself.
So how do we deal? One Scandinavian sleep hack aiming to keep everyone comfortable is picking up steam stateside: using separate covers for the bed. Known as the Scandinavian sleep method, it may seem like a simple solution. And 31.7% of U.S. adults with bedmates already use separate blankets. But does it really help us sleep?
Who Hogs the Covers and Why?
Temperature has a significant effect on falling asleep and staying asleep. It affects our circadian rhythms and influences our stages of sleep. But even keeping your bedroom at the perfect temperature for sleeping won’t deter a cover hog. As it stands, 31.8% of U.S. adults prefer a different room temperature when sleeping than their bedmates do.
Dr. Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., of The Sleep Doctor says cover hogs are more likely to strike between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. Why? The regulation of body temperature.
Our core body temperature starts to fall at about 10:30 p.m., around the time when many of us begin our bedtime routine. Dr. Breus says the drop in body temperature as we hit the pillow makes us colder and can lead us to steal the covers. That could help explain why 17.2% of respondents report regularly waking up cold in the middle of the night.
“All of those people will feel colder and colder as the night goes on,” he says, “and that is largely why they grab the covers to create more warmth.”
By 2:30 a.m., body temperatures start to rise again. For 31.6% of us, it means regularly waking up overheated in the middle of the night.
Dr. Breus shares that those of us who have trouble retaining body heat because of low body fat may thus be more likely to steal the covers. This also can be true of people with symptoms associated with menopause, such as night sweats; who have a medical condition with underlying temperature regulation issues; or who sleep naked.
Are Separate Blankets the Solution?
Enter the Scandinavian sleep method. In the OneCare Media survey, adults like Sharp who use separate blankets from their bedmates average about four minutes of sleep more each night than those who share blankets.
Who are these folks? Compared to other adults who share a bed, they are more likely to have the following:
- A bed partner who has insomnia
- Sleep apnea
- A bedtime at least an hour before or after their partner’s
- A different room-temperature preference from their partner
- A habit of waking up cold in the middle of the night
- Different sleep issues than their bedmates, generally
Of those who use separate blankets, 28.6% consider themselves cover hogs, compared to 25.2% of all respondents. And 39.4% consider their bedmate cover hogs, compared to 35.4% of all respondents. Some 41.8% have even tried “sleep divorce,” or sleeping in a separate bed or room from their partner.
The Scandinavian sleep hack worked for 48-year-old Ryan Vande Water and his wife, Julianne. The Indiana residents began using separate covers a few years ago as a compromise to their different sleeping preferences.
She was always cold. He thought their duvet, which he nicknamed “the furnace,” was too heavy. They decided to keep the same top sheet and choose their own comforters, which change depending on the season.
“In the summer, we usually share a king-size quilt, and she will add a blanket on her side,” Vande Water says. “In the spring and fall, she switches to a thicker blanket, and I fold the quilt in half and sleep under that. Then in the winter she usually adds another heavy blanket, and I will add a thinner fleece blanket over the quilt or have it ready to add in case I feel too cold.”
The only drawback? Extra laundry, he says.
What Are Other Cover Hog Hacks?
While sleeping with separate covers or blankets is one way to go, Dr. Breus suggests sleeping with socks on or wearing flannel pajamas to help stay warmer under shared covers.
“There is no hair on the bottom of the feet, so they dissipate heat more than almost any part of the body,” he says. “Cover hogs are getting too cold, so we want to keep them from losing that heat.”
Research suggests people still report better quality of sleep when sharing a bed with a partner. While hogging the covers likely won’t ruin your relationship on its own, it may take some resourcefulness to enjoy the benefits of sharing a bed.
“Bring extra patience and compassion toward yourself and your bed partner, and don’t be afraid to try different solutions if the first one doesn’t work,” Bartolucci says.
OneCare Media, the parent company of The Sleep Doctor, conducted the survey on the online platform Pollfish on Jan. 20, 2023. Results are from 1,250 survey participants in the United States, 625 females and 625 males, who were ages 18 and older at the time of the survey and reported that they regularly shared a bed with at least one other person in the past 365 days. All respondents attested to answering the survey questions truthfully and accurately.