When Sleeping Together Can Drive You Apart

Nearly two-thirds of couples spend most of the night apart.

Does that horrify you?

Or can you empathize completely?

It’s long been believed that sleeping apart is a sign of trouble.

But many couples credit a better night’s sleep to separate beds.[1]

Is better sleep worth giving up on the pleasure and comfort of falling asleep with your partner by your side?

Let’s find out!

Do Separate Beds Lead to Divorce?

When we think about married life, we assume that married couples don’t need more than one bedroom.

Surely part of being married is sharing the same bed.

But, according to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 1 in 4 married couples have separate beds.

This is known as a “sleep divorce,” and few people are talking about it. Would you want anyone to know if you weren’t sleeping in the same bed as your partner? Probably not!

Why are those couples sleeping apart? Is it because their relationship has become intolerable?

That’s certainly possible. When there’s hostility and conflict in your relationship, it’s difficult to let down your guard and get a good night’s sleep.[2] One small study found that 1 in 4 couples with separate beds report issues with intimacy.[3]

But most couples sleep apart because they can’t figure out how to sleep well together.

They have difficulties with:

  • Snoring
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Different sleep/wake times
  • Different preferences for temperature, mattress softness, and ambient noise

Should these couples soldier on through and accept the cost of a poor night’s sleep in exchange for feeling close?

Here’s the surprising answer…

Sleep Experts Agree

Sleep experts from Wendy Troxel to Matthew Walker agree:

A lack of sleep is bad for your relationship andyour mental health.

When your partner disturbs your sleep with snoring or tossing and turning, you feel worse the next day… and you blame it entirely on him.

You resent him. The lack of sleep makes you more impatient and quick to anger.

Over time, chronic sleep disruption erodes your closeness and connection.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep problems are negatively affecting the relationships of as many as 1 in 3 couples.

Women tend to bear the brunt of it, as women are more sensitive to sleep issues. They have twice the rate of insomnia as men.

And it’s not just their mental health that suffers. Lack of sleep contributes to health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.[4]

It’s wild to think that not being able to get a good night’s sleep in the same bed as your partner could be behind your inability to lose weight, but that’s what the science suggests.

What happens when you prioritize sleep instead?

Getting sufficient sleep boosts your mood, helping you feel happier and more resilient. You’re a better partner when you’re well rested.

Getting sufficient sleep can also benefit your intimate life.

Sleep is important for the production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. It’s so important, in fact, that one hour of extra sleep for a woman leads to a 14% increase in desire.[5]

Last but not least, sleep improves nearly every area of your health: your metabolism, your immunity, your cognitive sharpness.

You feel better inside and out when you’ve got good sleep.

But what if you don’t want to get a sleep divorce? Is there another option?

Get Good Sleep Together

Even sleep experts agree there’s something special about falling to sleep next to someone and waking up together.

Those moments are so precious that you’d put up with a little less sleep just to have them.

It’s what happens in between falling asleep and waking up that causes problems. When you’re sound asleep, you don’t even notice if anyone is sleeping next to you—unless they’re disrupting your sleep.

Some couples try to have it both ways by falling asleep together, then moving to a different bed after awakening in the night.

Other couples sleep in the same room, but in separate beds pushed together.

Other hacks include:

  • A king-sized mattress lined down the middle with pillows
  • Making the bed with separate duvets/comforters for each person (known as the “Scandinavian method”)
  • Wearing headphones/using a white noise machine or app

If worst comes to worst and nothing works, then try sleeping in separate rooms for a week or two.

Reassure your partner that you love feeling close to him at night, but you want to see if you can sleep better this way.

About 1 in 4 of us sleep best when we sleep alone—you might be one of those people.

If it doesn’t work, you can always return to the same bed.

No relationship can thrive when one or both of you are grouchy from lack of sleep. Whether it’s separate comforters or separate beds, finding the perfect formula for a good night’s sleep is worth the investment. Being well rested makes life so much easier.






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