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Sleep divorce: The benefits of sleeping in separate beds

Sleep Divorce

If you’re in a happy, committed relationship, the term “sleep divorce” may fill you with a sense of dread. After all, many of us assume couples sleeping in separate beds must be having problems with their relationship. However, this might not be the case. 

While countless couples do look forward to sleeping next to their partner each night, and snuggling until their alarm wakes them in the morning, others have nothing but problems associated with a shared bed.

This is because we all have different sleep patterns and behaviors. These aren’t always compatible with the people we choose to spend our lives with.

Deciding to sleep in a separate bed from your partner doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is on the rocks. It could simply be a sign you’re both committed to getting the best possible quality of sleep each night, even if that means not snoozing together. 

Let’s explore what sleep divorce is, and what it could mean for your relationship. 

What is sleep divorce? How common is sleep divorce?

The term “sleep divorce” is used to describe an arrangement between two committed partners wherein both individuals sleep in different beds. Some people who engage in sleep divorce stay in the same room, but have their own beds for extra space. Others choose to sleep in entirely different rooms, or at different times to their partner. 

Although the concept might seem a little strange at first, it’s worth remembering only a little over 60% of Americans actually sleep together. While it’s certainly more common for couples to share the same bed, there are countless well-adjusted partners who prefer to sleep separately. 

In fact, countless royal couples throughout the decades have had their own bedrooms, such as Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Phillip. 

So, what percentage of couples sleep separately? It’s difficult to know for certain. However, a study by the National Sleep Foundation found about 25% of American couples sleep in separate beds for a variety of reasons.

Studies have also revealed the number of custom homes built with two separate master bedrooms has also increased over recent years. 

The reason it’s so difficult to get a good insight into how many couples sleep separately, is most people don’t like to admit to this practice.

There’s an odd stigma surrounding the concept of “sleep divorce”, with many people believing separate sleeping arrangements equal a doomed relationship.

Sleep Divorce

What are the benefits of sleeping in separate beds?

While many of us do like the idea of snuggling up next to our partners at the end of a long day, sleeping together isn’t always as serene and romantic as it sounds. According to some studies, people generally sleep worse with a partner. 

Adding another person to your bedroom means you’re more likely to encounter sleep disruptions, caused by snoring, alternate sleep patterns and more.

In general, most couples say they prefer to sleep with their partner. Simply because sleeping with the person we love gives us a fantastic sense of intimacy and security. However, sleeping with a loved one can have a host of problems which disrupt the quality of your sleep. 

If your partner has a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, they may move around a lot or make a significant amount of noise in bed. This could mean you’re unable to enjoy the right quality of sleep you need for a good night’s rest. 

Sleeping with your partner can also harm, rather than preserve your relationship if it impacts your sleep quality. Imagine you’re sleeping with a partner who snores. Most of the time, unless you fall asleep first, the sound of your partner snoring will make it extremely difficult for you to drift off. 

You may end up shoving or poking your other half during the night just so you can get some sleep, which means neither of you get the best rest. 

One study into sleep and relationship quality found when male subjects slept poorly during the night; their relationship quality seemed to suffer the next day. Both parties felt less happy in their relationship, and had more negative feelings towards their partners. 

Is it OK for married couples to sleep apart?

There’s a lot of stigma around the concept of sleeping apart. We often assume sleeping together with our other half is a good way to demonstrate our love and commitment.

However, this isn’t always the case. As mentioned above, if sleeping together damages your sleep quality, it can also harm your relationship, causing a multitude of problems. 

Notably, while there are benefits to sleeping in separate beds, there are also advantages to choosing to stay with your partner at night. One study found that sleeping separately helped couples to achieve better sleep quality and reduced stress, but sleeping together led to healthier sex lives and relationships. 

Sleeping apart won’t always benefit your relationship either. One study discovered that “Rapid Eye Movement”, deep sleep is generally increased when partners sleep together. Additionally, cuddling with your partner is a good way to boost your levels of oxytocin, the hormone known for creating feelings of love and trust.

Sleeping with your partner can make you feel more comfortable and secure, so you’re more able to drift off at night. 

When does sleep divorce make sense?

Studies into the growing trend of sleep divorce highlight the fact that sleep isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. While some people do benefit from sleeping together, others can improve their relationship and their health by choosing to sleep apart. 

After all, if you get a bad night’s sleep, it doesn’t just make you grumpier, it can also lead to various health issues, from increased blood pressure to a higher risk of anxiety and depression. 

The key is in figuring out whether sleep divorce or sleeping in separate beds is right for you and your partner. A study into couples sleeping together and separately found there are a few key reasons why a person might choose to sleep separately from their partners:

Conflicting sleep schedules
If you fall asleep and wake up at different times to your partner, the movements of your other half can easily disrupt your sleep. Around 63% of Millennials, and 62% of Gen Z respondents in the survey said they sleep in separate beds to avoid disruption caused by opposing sleep schedules. 

One of the most common reasons people choose to sleep apart is snoring. While sometimes snoring can be rectified with the use of various treatments, it’s not always possible to overcome this issue. Around 68% of older respondents in the study said they stopped sleeping together because one partner’s snoring kept the other awake. 

Bed preferences
Not everyone enjoys the same kind of bedding. Some people like ultra-soft mattresses, while others prefer their mattress to be firm. Some want their bed to be extremely warm, while others prefer to sleep cool. 

Sleep disorders
Sleep disorders can be extremely disruptive to not only the partner suffering from the condition, but the person sleeping next to them too. Around 54% of Millennials said they slept separately to their partner because of a sleep disorder. 

Around 82% of respondents in the study said they sleep separately because of children. For instance, when a baby is still young, one parent may choose to sleep in the same bedroom as the child, to keep an eye on them. It’s not always possible to bring a crib or a cot into a master bedroom alongside a shared bed.

Ultimately, most people choose to sleep in separate beds when sleeping with their partner has a negative impact on their health, or their relationships. 

Around 44% of respondents in the study mentioned above said sleeping with their partner has made them wonder whether their relationship can really work. If you’re concerned your poor sleeping patterns are damaging your relationship, a sleep divorce may be a good alternative to a real divorce.

Is sleeping in separate beds a good idea?

The concept of sleep divorce has been gaining more attention in recent years, as individuals and couples alike focus on improving their sleep hygiene. Sleeping in separate beds is still regarded an “unusual” process by a lot of people. 

However, the reality is it’s much more common than you might think. Getting a good night’s sleep is a lot more important than simply following the rules of society.

In some cases, sleeping together can be a wonderful thing. It’s a highly intimate act which can have a number of benefits, from an improved sense of security to a greater feeling of closeness. 

For couples who can accommodate each other’s sleep patterns and schedules, sleeping together can be a great idea. However, not every couple is “sleep compatible”. 

For people who struggle to sleep well together, sleeping in separate beds can be a great way to preserve the relationship, and avoid a multitude of common health problems.

It doesn’t have to mean giving up on bedtime intimacy either. You can always spend a few minutes cuddling before you separate and go off into your separate beds for the night. 

Siestio. Sleep Matters.

General advice disclaimer
This article contains general tips and advice. However, no diet or exercise program should be started without consulting your physician or other industry professional first. For more information read our full disclaimer here.

Medical Expert

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