Sleep is sacred: don’t touch me in bed

Image by the fabulous Stuart F Taylor

There’s a question on OKCupid along the lines of ‘how do you prefer to sleep with a partner?’ – to check whether you like sleeping in your own space in the bed, or entwined with the other person like a pair of humping snakes. I am very much of the opinion that sleep is sacred, and if you try to hug me when it’s bedtime I am liable to genuinely cry. I’m not saying ‘don’t touch me in bed’, because sometimes we’re gonna want to fuck. But if sleep is top of the agenda, I cannot stress this enough: get off me.

According to men I have known, this isn’t very romantic or intimate of me, but I can’t help it. I’ve tried to cuddle-sleep, and failed time and time again.

Sleep is sacred. Sacred, I tell you. Especially right now, in the middle of a pandemic, when everyone I know is relying on some substance, trick or ritual to try and get their sleep to a place of normality, I reckon touching someone when they’re trying to get to sleep is beyond monstrous, and if I were in any position of power I would ban it immediately.

This, incidentally, is why I should never be given power.

Fuck you, Friends

I grew up believing that as a woman I should want to sleep snuggled up next to a man. Perhaps this is something to do with how cosy and comfortable it looks when people do it on the telly, but I’m choosing instead to put it down to that one Friends episode where the boys discuss the ‘hug and roll’ technique – a method for gently nudging a sleeping woman off you when your arm goes dead and you want some kip. I haven’t rewatched it, but I remember taking away from it a strong feeling that as a woman I should want to snuggle up close with a man.

And I’m sorry, but fuck no. Stop. Argh. Get off me.

There are many ways in which I disappoint men, and I think this is one of them. When we’re done fucking, or chatting, or drinking, or competing with each other to see who can eat the most Cadbury’s Creme Eggs before we collapse into a chocolate-slathered pile, I want to actually go to sleep. I’ll go one step further and say that as a general rule, I usually prefer to fuck in places that are not bed, to maintain the sanctity of sleepytime.

This, obviously, goes out the window if the only decent place you have to fuck is a bed, or if you happen to have a particularly good bed to fuck in. In recent months I’ve done more bed-based fucking, if only because the bedroom is the best room in the house for sexytime lighting: I have Hue bulbs that my ex left in the bedroom lights, and one of the ‘scenes’ is ideal for getting naked and fucked up in.

Anyway. I digress. The important point is that when it’s time to sleep, perchance to dream, it’s also time for you to roll over, perchance to get your hands off me.

“Stop sweating on me”

To test whether I am a terrible, mean, cold-hearted freak on this point, I ran my opinion past a good friend – a loving, warm, caring individual who’s a big fan of romance and love. Her response?

“Oh GOD yeah. I hate it when men try to hug me to sleep. We’ve just shagged! Stop sweating on me!”

Yeah, motherfuckers. Go sweat on your own side, and leave me to sweat on mine. More importantly, don’t put your arm under my neck like you’re trying to be a human pillow: it’s wildly uncomfortable and not nearly as good as the item we invented especially for this purpose – an actual fucking pillow.

If you want to spoon me from behind, I can just about deal with that, as long as you know that this is a limited-time offer, which happens for five-to-ten minutes max before you beat a hasty retreat to your side of the bed. Many’s the night I have tossed (not in a good way) and turned uncomfortably, trying to cling to a single foot of space right at the edge because some affectionate prick thought it’d be cool to fall asleep while spooning up and encroaching on my sacred sleep territory.

No. Nope. Absolutely the fuck not.

I remember a rather heartbreaking moment one night with my ex, when I spooned up behind him to give him a bedtime cuddle. He was a fan of these things, so I occasionally made the effort because I’m a gold-plated catch. When it got to the moment when I realised I needed to roll over and sleep, I gave him what I thought was a cute-and-gentle goodnight kiss on the shoulder. He let out a long, melancholy sigh.

Me: Oh no! What’s up?

Him: That’s the ‘finished’ kiss. It means ‘no more cuddles for you, I’m going to sleep.’

Broke my heart, it did. But he was right: NO MORE FUCKING CUDDLES. It’s sleepy time, bitch.

Don’t touch me in bed

The easiest way for me to sleep – right now, in a pandemic, when my life is filled with stress and panic – is to take a sleeping tablet ten minutes before bedtime, cuddle up for just long enough that I can assuage the deep-seated guilt I feel on an almost constant basis that I am not dispensing enough affection, then retreat to a space on my side of the bed, entirely untouched and un-fucked-with, so I can lie on my back and stand a vague chance of nodding off.

In happier times, I’ve occasionally managed to fall asleep entwined with a gentleman, although tellingly it’s usually me who gets to be the ‘hugger’ rather than the ‘huggee’: I can lie on my back with a man nestled comfortably in my armpit/on my shoulder, and gently stroke him as he nods off before falling asleep myself. But only if we’ve really worked on the tessellation, and only if he doesn’t fidget, and only if neither of us is too sweaty or suffering from a bad back. The vast majority of the time, I need a clear line of space between him and I, ideally on a proper king size bed, so there’s less risk of both of us rolling into the dip that inevitably forms in the middle of a double mattress when you fuck as hard as I do.

But there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in there, and if you’re a gentleman who’s hoping to one day meet, impress and bang me, before tempting me back to your lair for sleepytime cuddles and pillow talk? I’ll be honest: it’s not looking great for you.

Sleep is hard. And it’s sacred. And it’s difficult enough to do when you’re in the same room as new(ish) people, let alone the same bed. It becomes even harder if they insist on wrapping their limbs around you like they’re climbing a tree, or – worse – clinging to you like they worry you’ll sneak off at 4am because you got bored of them halfway through the night.



Non. Nein. Iie. Nyet. 

Sleep is sacred. Don’t touch me in bed. Get off me.


As you can tell, I feel quite strongly about this topic. However, because I am benevolent and broad-minded, I accept that there may be people who feel as strongly about this in the opposite direction. To ensure a balanced debate here on the blog, I would absolutely love a guest post from one of you depraved cuddle-hungry freaks – pitch me!


  • fustus says:

    According to Robert Graves, the “sag furrowed in a mattress by love-making” is called a ‘river’. Thought you might be interested to know there’s a term for that.

  • Purple Rain says:

    Not in the least ice cold of you! A quick cuddle is nice, then I am very much on Team Move-to-Snooze. Luckily, so is my partner, so we turn our backs on each other and drift off happily.

  • Megan says:

    My husband and I adore each other, have a very physically affectionate relationship, and sleep in separate rooms entirely, each in our own king-sized bed. Because sleep is sacred, and we discovered years ago that we are happier people if we can toss, turn, ‘n sprawl to our hearts’ content.

  • oxyfromsg says:

    A cuddle is nice. But the only way i can sleep is on my side facing out the way. Cuddling in is not a option unless you want me grumpy all the next day.

  • Llencelyn says:

    Cuddle-hugging to sleep sounds sweet and cozy and when I was younger, it was my greatest dream to…well, go to dreamland using these methods.

    In practice, it was horrifying to find out that I was not that kind of person. I felt guilty as well, though my then partner never shamed me for it.

    Thus, cuddling is an awake-time activity only. As a gateway to sleep, it only brings me pain, discomfort, dead arms and sweat. I just can’t relax into sleeping.

    Hell, sometimes I can’t relax into sleeping as is. It takes a monumental effort just to notice that my jaw or brow or pelvis are tightened for whatever reason!

    And yet…and yet… the idea of cuddling to sleep -still- sounds attractive. In my head. Undoubtedly, other attempts will be made, only to remember why it doesn’t work for me.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ahhh yes I totally get this – I think the idea of falling asleep in someone’s arms/with someone in my arms is nice, but yeah it’s the practical things that get in the way. Your comment has made me realise I’m maybe not quite so cold-hearted as I think – I definitely like the idea of cuddle-sleeping, just not the practice.

  • Dissembling Cub says:

    Ahhh, I have to disagree. I’m a proper heat seeking cuddle monster in the night. My spouse loves it. My girlfriend…. not so much. Blissfully happy as a middle spoon, unless it is the very height of summer, in which case, even I struggle.

  • Dominic says:

    Absolutely concur.
    I’ve tried sleeping whilst spooning my girlfriends but it’s not comfortable and I can’t sleep whilst doing it.
    Most have been disappointed that I did not want to. Though none ever volunteered to cuddle me instead.
    Glad I’m not the only one.

  • fuzzy says:

    Reading this one to my spouse, because she is *just* like what you just wrote. I’m a space heater and an octopus, and it took me years to learn the limits of the going-to-bed-cuddle-spoon and that after 5-10 minutes when she was all warm and soft and nestled down good that it was time for me draw back gently to not disturb her and roll over so her back could breathe and her butt wouldn’t be all moist from our mutual heat. Ha.

  • S from W says:

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    My other half and I can’t even tolerate sleeping in the same ROOM as each other, let alone the same bed. She prefers a level of blankety warmth which could roast a beef joint whereas I seem to want a sleep temperature akin to our refrigerator. She’s a light sleeper, I’m a heavy deep sleeper (who unfortunately snores.)

    We all have our preferences, we’re all different. Don’t beat yourself up.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Haha this makes me feel a lot better, thanks! Also “a level of blankety warmth which could roast a beef joint” made me laugh out loud. I’m glad you have found a way of sleeping that works for you both and PLEASE keep spreading the word about this – I feel like I didn’t know this was allowed/possible when I was younger, and it is good to show people that *you* get to choose what works for you in your own relationships, there is no ‘right’ way to sleep, just as there’s no ‘right’ way to fuck. i really appreciate you sharing!

  • S from W says:

    There is definitely a uniqueness to every relationship – no such thing as ‘normal’. There’s also definitely a stigma to being perceived as as couple who ‘don’t sleep together’ but the more people I ask, the more common I find it to be, particularly with our age group (mid 30s.)

    Thank you for the reply, glad I can contribute to making you feel better :-)

  • Moondog says:

    I feel this with every fibre of my being ❤️

  • Q says:

    Hold up — I love this post and your writing and also super get wanting to get to FUCKING SLEEP without being bothered, but the part I am zeroing in on here is: PLEASE tell me the settings of your preferred sex Hue scene!! I can’t believe I haven’t even thought about working out ideal settings for that. (In my defense I mostly use them for migraine management, which is more or less the least sexy thing ever.)

    • Girl on the net says:

      Haha annoyingly when I wrote this post I had *different* lightbulbs, and I have since moved so my setup is a little different to how it used to be. The way it used to be, I’d have warm light at about 30% (I think) from side lamps (not top). In my new place I’m more about the colour (I use Innr rather than Hue but I have a Hue bridge that I got in a Black Friday sale) and I find I use Soho, Tokyo and Fairfax from the pre-programmed settings a fair bit for sex times. Most of the time I’m shagging in the lounge, where I am a Fancy Prick with 3 side lights and one top light, and I find the best is a mix of blue/red tints at <50%, maybe with top light off depending on your room setup and whereabouts in it you're fucking. The more red/purple you can get, the more flattering it is I think. Have a play with yours and let me know what you reckon!

      (Sidebar: huge commiserations on the migraines - I get them too and they are SUCH a cunt. My doctor gave me Sumatriptan, which sometimes works if I manage to take it *exactly* when I start to get auras. But it's a 50/50 call on whether I can take one, go to bed for a couple of hours, and then be OK or whether I take one, it does nothing, and I spend the next 12 hours in agony and vomiting. Fuck migraines)

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