Winter has come and the night is dark and full or terrors. Perhaps the biggest terror of all is the fear of losing that warmth under the duvet covers.
It’s the source of many an argument between partners the world over. There’s always one in the relationship who loves to steal the covers and turn themselves into a lovely toasty little burrito of cosiness while leaving the other out to fend for themselves in the Siberian cold of the natural elements.
If you’re thinking your partner doesn’t steal the covers from you and you guys don’t have this problem then you are the problem. You steal the covers and your partner is nice enough not to moan about it the morning after.
But if you’re the victim of this temperature terrorism, this bed sheet bedlam, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to suffer in silence. That’s because it’s likely your partner hogging your duvet covers is doing so as a response to a deep existential dread.
Cover stealing is a very common problem between partners, as we found out from Professor Paul Rosenblatt of the University of Minnesota.
He conducted a series of interviews for his book Two In A Bed and found numerous ways couples got around the problem of cover stealing. Some couples would tuck their covers in particularly securely; some would have separate covers; some would simply yank back the stolen covers in a constant tug of war throughout the night.
As to why people steal the covers, Professor Rosenblatt is unsure.
He told UNILAD:
People who stole covers did it while they were sleeping. That means they were unaware of doing it when they did it and could not tell me why they did it. My guess is that for some there was security in being wrapped up in covers.
I think many do not intend to steal covers; it’s just something that happens when they roll over. But then cover stealing might be a bigger problem [in Minnesota] than in many places in the world, because in this part of the U.S. we have long, very cold winters.
So some people might pull more covers toward themselves because they are feeling cold.
It turns out, the professor was on to something when he hypothesised about security in the duvet covers. In fact, it goes further than that – it’s about deep seated childhood sleeping habits.
A massive survey of over 2,000 Americans by Best Mattress Brand revealed people are more likely to steal duvet covers if they had a ‘bedtime companion’ in their early lives. Those people who had teddies or security blankets are more likely to hog those covers now their toy is hidden in a box in the attic.
The study found that 35 per cent of people who slept with dolls or other companions as a kid now hog the covers, compared with only 19 per cent of those who had nothing to snuggle up to in their formative years.
And those who still rely on cuddling up to things in their sleep – like their teddy bears or the covers – may actually do this to help confront their own mortality. That’s right, recent research found that touch can seriously help people with anxiety feel more secure in their own life.
The series of studies, published in the Psychological Science journal, showed people who have low self-esteem tend to have larger problems with existential crises.
Lead researcher Sander Koole explained:
Even fleeting and seemingly trivial instances of interpersonal touch may help people to deal more effectively with existential concern.
This is important because we all have to deal with existential concerns and we all have times at which we struggle to find meaning in life.
In fact, the impact of the feeling of touch is so strong the researchers are strongly considering exploring the possibilities of creating a jacket which simulates a hug.
So when your partner is tugging on those covers, just know they might well be doing so to feel more at ease with their existential situation, so don’t be that person and rip their security away – it’s just not the right thing to do.