Sleeping in the same bed as your spouse is the norm. Or is it? History has it that during the Victorian era, sharing a bed with your partner was considered unhygienic, even dangerous. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that married couples (at least, in America) started sharing a bed. And the rest is cultural history.
However, times may be changing. A 2017 survey by the National Sleep Foundation has found that about 25% of married couples have taken to sleeping separately. And this trend has been attributed to people’s need for better sleep patterns and the alleviation of marital difficulties.
What is Sleep Divorce?
A sleep divorce is a mutual agreement between couples about sleeping separately (whether in separate beds or separate rooms) for the purpose of improving the quality of sleep or rest – for the more honorable purpose of ultimately improving the quality of the relationship.
Sleep divorce may take various shapes across different couples. Some couples may elect to sleep in separate beds or rooms every night, while others may just do so on the weeknights. Some may try this arrangement out for a week then go back to sleeping together the next, and others might give it a try every other night. The important thing about sleep divorce is you do what works best for each and both of you.
Asking for a sleep divorce is not to cause pain or suffering or some form of punishment for the other. Rather, it is a conversation approached with honesty and kindness, for the betterment of the marriage. It is not the beginning of the end of a marriage – on the contrary, it’s to save it.
How Sleeping in Separate Beds Can Help Marriages
Studies have shown that sleep is linked to better physical and mental well-being. Sleep deprivation can result in chronic pain, a compromised immune system, and other physical conditions and complications. Likewise, not getting enough sleep may negatively impact mental health by way of depression, anxiety, and irritability. For obvious reasons, both the stress of physical ailments and other burdens on mental well-being can impact the loved ones, not just the self. Therefore, romantic relationships are likely to take a hit, too.
Sleep regulates hormone levels and irregularities in sleep patterns can lead to a spike in stress hormone levels while the levels of sex hormones take a dive. This causes physical and psychological sexual dysfunction.
Speaking of elevated stress hormone levels, being sleep deprived can drive tension in relationships and push the couple into arguments. If you wish to preserve the health of your relationship, you need to take care of your health, as well.
Snoring is another leading reason why some couples opt to sleep apart. A study by the Mayo Clinic has found that individuals who sleep with a partner or spouse lose, on average, an hour of sleep because of the partner’s snoring. Another one of the top reasons some couples choose to sleep apart is snoring. Sleeping apart is a practical way of eliminating the disturbances caused by snoring. While using various anti-snoring sleep devices or changing the sleep position of the snorer can alleviate this dilemma, more often, just sleeping apart is more effective.
Trivial though it may sound to some, cover pulling between couples sleeping in the same bed is a consistent reason they opt to sleep apart. Differences in temperature preferences cause the night-time bedding tug-of-war between the hot sleepers and cold sleepers. Discomfort while sleeping may lead to insomnia and, ultimately, the whole host of conditions arising from sleep deprivation. It is fortunate that now, there are innovative split comforters for couples facing this exact dilemma.
In this highly connected age we live in, many individuals find themselves deprived of sleep due to their partners’ mobile phone usage during bedtime. The glare from one’s screen can cause sleep disturbances in the other.
A different perspective on sleep divorce is explained by clinical psychologist Jill Lankler, as a chance to actually be “more intentional” about keeping the couple’s sex life healthy while also relieving pressure to be intimate when sharing a bed.
Certainly, sleep divorce is not for everyone. If you and your partner are happy with your current sleep arrangements, then there is no need to change it. Sleep divorce is being explored by couples who are looking for that sweet spot between a healthy marriage and quality sleep poles. Sleep deprivation is no joke; it has been found to cause turmoil throughout the rest of the day. Besides, what’s “normal” in a marriage is that which matters to both of you. Whatever other people – people who are NOT part of the couple, by the way – think or say should not matter.