You be the judge: should my wife decide what time we go to sleep?

Wilmer says Andrea should let him watch TV in bed. She insists on a strict lights out. Have your say and help put this argument to bed

Find out how to get a disagreement settled or become a You be the judge juror

The prosecution: Wilmer

Andrea will suddenly decide it’s lights out, and gives me no time to finish my chapter or episode

I don’t think it’s reasonable if, when you’re sharing a bed with a partner and they suddenly decide they need to sleep, you have to follow. But that’s how it works with my wife, Andrea.

I’ll be reading or watching something and suddenly it’s lights out. There’s no wind-down or “finish your chapter or episode”; it’s just the guillotine – goodnight. She often wants to go to sleep at 9.30pm, which is too early for me as I’m a night owl. It doesn’t matter that I’m there watching a bit of telly; all that matters is Andrea is ready for bed so I have to be too.

She can’t sleep with me watching TV next to her, even if I have headphones in. And I’m not allowed to use the bedside light after she goes to sleep. I often say: “What is the point of a bedside light, if its sole function is not allowed?” And she will reply: “If you want to do anything past my bedtime, you’ve got to go downstairs.”

I think it’s quite harsh, particularly if I’m in the middle of something and it’s winter, when in bed is the warmest place to be. We don’t have a TV right now, so I watch a lot of things on my computer in bed. Andrea says I spend too much time in bed, but I like being wrapped up and comfy. When it’s cold, I’d rather just be lying down. I also work from bed in the daytime when I should really be at the kitchen table – it’s just the best position in the house. Though my spine doesn’t agree.

Andrea gets very anxious if it gets too late in the evening and she’s not asleep. It started after we had kids. They are six and four, and get us up around five in the morning, so actually I’m quite grateful to go to sleep early. Though at night, when Andrea wants to turn the light off, she transforms into a different person – a bedroom monster, I would say.

One of three things usually happens. Either I’ll concede and go to bed cross, which isn’t healthy. Or I’ll say, “This is outrageous”, and we hash it out, but I’ll still go to bed feeling quite cross. Or I’ll move and go downstairs.

Perhaps I should accept it, but I just don’t like losing the battle.

The defence: Andrea

Any light stops me from sleeping. If he wants to read or watch something, he can go downstairs

I’m upset that I’m being prosecuted – in fact, I feel that I should be the one doing the prosecuting.

The main purpose of the bedroom is to sleep and to rest. As soon as one person wants to go to sleep, it should be lights out and sleep time, because that’s what the bedroom is for. That should take priority – you can’t have a blazing light on while someone else is trying to get some shut-eye.

Some people might be more relaxed about it, but any light stops me from sleeping and I can’t deal with all the rustling of someone watching something on a laptop next to me. I don’t use eye masks as they make me feel claustrophobic. So if Wilmer wants to carry on reading or watching something, he can go downstairs. If we do watch something together, I can’t do more than two episodes in a row anyway. He can continue for two or three hours, but I get bored.

The root of our issue is that he spends too much time in bed and has no division between his work and play. I’ll come home and our bed will be covered with his sheets and folders. I have to take them off and convert it back to a non-work space.

He says I sleep too much, but this is coming from a man who used to lock himself in the loo at work for a nap. I’d say I’m also busier than him – always doing things or out and about. Wilmer’s not lazy, but he loves the bed more than me.

I admit I became completely neurotic about sleep after having kids. I was sleep-deprived for so long. You need lights out by 9.30pm if you’re going to wake up at 4am. Wilmer is also better at handling being sleep-deprived; I fall into a puddle of tears and become a horrible person.

We should both stop watching TV in bed. I don’t mind reading before sleep as it helps you wind down. When Wilmer reads, he only manages a page before he’s out. Strictness helps us stick to a sleep routine. When I think back to the times when I’ve made us go to sleep, rarely has Wilmer’s desire to continue watching or reading something outweighed his desire to stay in bed.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Andrea be allowed to decide what time is lights out?

Andrea is not guilty because while her husband can go somewhere else to do the things he wants to do, she can’t. It’s not a matter of her pleasure, it’s a matter of her health and her ability to function and take care of their children.
Francesca, 29

Andrea can’t just rule the roost and dictate what time everyone goes to bed. Surely Wilmer should be able to read with a night light on? She’s a dictator.
Annabelle, 30

Andrea has to clear the bed of all his work stuff, which sounds like hell. He doesn’t have a boundary between bedtime and daytime. And having folders all over the bed doesn’t sound very conducive to having sex. (Perhaps they’ve grown out of it?)
Belinda, 63

Andrea’s defence is reasonable: sleep is vital. If Wilmer wants to stay up watching movies or reading, that’s fair enough – but he should do it somewhere else. Sleeping surely takes precedence over most things.
Jasper, 62

Wilmer needs to stop being such a slob. If he wants to stay up, he should find another room to do it in. Like a living room. Andrea is right: beds are for sleeping in.
Matt, 33

Now you be the judge

In our online poll below, tell us: should Andrea loosen her grip on the light switch?

The poll is now closed

Last week’s result

We asked if Trevor should stop cutting his nails in front of his wife and others

95% of you said yes: Trevor is guilty

5% of you said no: Trevor is not guilty


Georgina Lawton

The GuardianTramp

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