Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
So you've been short-changed in the sleep department due to sharing your bed? Can't remember the last time you got a good night's rest? I feel your pain! If your spouse, kids, or fur-babies are keeping you up at night, and you're wondering if it's healthy to sleep in separate beds, keep reading!
A while back, I shared a podcast and post about Living Apart Together while married. That must have struck a nerve for many since I've had so many questions in my inbox! Indeed, the idea of separate beds is trending. My husband and I lived in separate apartments for almost two years. Now we are back in the same house, but we get healthy sleep, each in our own room. Our relationship is healthier now, too.
Plus, I've been writing about a variety of sleep problems, the solution to poor sleep, and getting better sleep for years. One question people want to know is about sleeping in separate beds. Is it healthy? Does sleeping in separate beds help or hurt your relationship? I'll answer all your burning questions.
Reasons couples may want to have Separate Bedrooms
There are plenty of reasons why a married couple may choose to sleep in separate beds or even separate rooms. Here are a few I've heard of from readers…
- One person snores, has Sleep Apnea, or uses a CPAP machine, etc.
- Temperature preferences differ (room and body temps)
- Different sleep schedules (one is an early bird, one is a night owl)
- Opposite work shifts
- Insomniac (one partner has insomnia and therefore keeps the other awake)
- One partner is a light sleeper
- Kids want to sleep with mom
- Restless leg syndrome
- Different mattress preference (soft vs. firm)
- Using a device (TV, Smartphone, Kindle) disturbs sleep
The topic has been even more pressing for some couples during the pandemic since people are spending more time at home due to covid. When you work, eat, and sleep together day after day for a year, you really start to test the strength of a relationship. If you are feeling resentful because your significant other is the cause of your sleep deprivation you may start dreaming of your own bed!
According to a recent survey, over a third of married couples say they'd rather get a good night's sleep than to continue sleeping with their partner. Does that resonate with you? Perhaps that's because sleep deprivation leads to other problems.
Negative Impact of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is associated with early aging. Weight gain, lower endurance levels, and fatigue are also a result of being chronically sleep-deprived. The demand for drugs to promote sleep is ever-increasing. In the US alone more than 55 million prescriptions were written in 2014. With these prescriptions come a dreadful collection of side effects. Anxiety, stress, and depression are often present in those who experience chronic insomnia. These conditions have a significant impact on circadian rhythms which negatively affect both sleep quality and duration. ~ Getting the Restorative Sleep You Need
Sleep experts suggest that a lack of sleep can lead to poor mental and physical health. So why wouldn't you want to do everything you can to eliminate sleep issues? Improve sleep quality by sleeping alone if that's what it takes. A sleep divorce could actually be good for your marriage.
Is it normal for married couples to sleep in separate beds?
What's normal? Nothing but a setting on your washing machine! Instead of being concerned with what is common for other people, consider what is beneficial for you. If you're worried about what other people may think, consider the fact that there are millions of other people like you, missing out on sleep because of what someone may think of them.
But, if what other people do is important to you; know that it is reported that Donald Trump and his wife sleep in separate bedrooms. They aren't alone! John F. Kennedy and his wife slept in separate rooms.
By the 1920s, twin beds were seen as a fashionable, modern choice. “Separate beds for every sleeper are as necessary as are separate dishes for every eater,” wrote Dr Edwin Bowers in his 1919 volume, Sleeping for Health. “They promote comfort, cleanliness, and the natural delicacy that exists among human beings.Why Did Married Couples Stop Sleeping in Twin Beds
A whopping 59% of couples who started sleeping separately say they have improved sleep quality. The survey also showed that for those who had trouble sleeping together about half of the respondents reported less sex and more fighting.
More and more people are choosing to get quality sleep over sharing a bed when they are experiencing sleep disturbances.
What percent of married couples sleep in separate beds?
According to a recent study, 75% of Americans report sleep disturbances caused by their partner. Not all of them go so far as to start sleeping separately.
Only about 10 percent of married couples sleep in separate bedrooms. Around 25 percent of American couples sleep in separate beds according to a recent National Sleep Foundation. Although, my belief is that many more do but aren't willing to admit it due to the stigma of “sleeping separately” being equated with a troubled marriage.
That's simply not true. People who get better sleep have a better outlook on everything, feel better, and because of that are more apt to have a better relationship. Whereas people who don't get enough sleep due to a partner keeping them awake may be irritable and after time, they may even start to feel resentment. Better to sleep separately than to have all those negative emotions, right?
Updated 2022 to Add: More Couples Sleep Separately After Covid 19
Two years after the pandemic, more people report sleeping separately. Whether that is due to stress or in an attempt to mitigate viral exposure is yet unknown.
Do royal couples sleep in separate beds?
Have you been watching The Crown? If so, perhaps you've noticed that the Queen has a separate bedroom. When Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband visited, they were given two rooms and thought it quite odd! While the story is said to have taken many creative liberties, the idea that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip sleep in separate bedrooms appears to be true. This is apparently a custom among the English upper-class. That makes sense considering a second master bedroom would be a luxury.
Is sleeping in separate beds is bad?
This might sound blunt, but wouldn't it be better to get a sleep divorce than to resent the person you sleep with for keeping you up all night? Just because you sleep in separate beds doesn't mean you can't have a fantastic relationship! On the contrary, sleeping in separate beds could be healing for your marriage. If you sleep better you'll feel better because you'll be well-rested.
A well-rested, happy person is much more likely to want to spend time together not sleeping than a grumpy person who only got three hours of sleep last night because someone kept them awake the rest of the night!
If one of you wants to sleep separately, it is important to talk about why and how you could go about doing so without harming the relationship. Set up a routine that includes other enjoyable time together.
For example, my husband and I have coffee together every morning, then breakfast. On his days off, we watch some TV together and he will hang out in my room until I am ready to go to sleep. He then returns to his apartment and locks my door on his way out. He may spend several more hours doing things he wants to do before he goes to bed in his apartment.
If your spouse is a night owl and you're an early bird, you may relate to our situation. Couples who have space could experiment with sleeping separately to see if it helps improve sleep and your relationship. As long as you both communicate your needs and wants to one another, it doesn't have to be a bad thing.
When one person is opposed to sleeping in separate beds, it might be time to seek help from a professional. A marriage counselor who is well-versed in emotionally focused therapy can do wonders in a situation like this. The key is to proactively spend time together at other times if you want to sleep in separate beds.
Some people assume that there must be something wrong with a relationship if they discover that partners are sleeping separately. But why? OK, human beings have sex and procreate, but whoever said they had to spend the whole night together in the same bed?”― Caroline Carr, Menopause: The Guide for Real Women
Can Separate Bedrooms save a marriage?
Speaking from my own personal experience I can enthusiastically say that having our own bedrooms has improved our marriage. I'm not the only one who enjoys separate beds.
I definitely benefit from it the most. My husband is able to fall back asleep within minutes if he is awakened at night. On the other hand, if something wakes me up, I'll be awake for a while. I have no problem falling asleep initially, but I tend to be a light sleeper and I wake up very early… like 430. I'm currently writing this article in the early morning hours, my most creative time of the day.
He gets home from work late at night and even the sound of him showering in the master bedroom would wake me up. I hate to admit it, but if someone wakes me up a few hours into my sleep, I can be a real bitch. My husband is happy to avoid that! Not to mention, the resentment that builds up when someone causes you to lose precious sleep…well that's not good for a marriage.
My husband cares more for my well-being than anything else and it pains him to know that he may have kept me from getting a good night's sleep. I find that very endearing about him and it makes me want to show him my love even more, (not less.)
I have read many stories where one person in a relationship was suffering from a lack of sleep due to the sleep habits of their significant other. Good quality sleep is essential for mental health. In a healthy relationship, honesty is a priority, even if it's something uncomfortable to discuss. If one person feels they would be happier sleeping in their own bed, doing so could certainly save a marriage.
To take this one step further, consider all of the divorced people you know. Did they sleep together? Sleeping together every night is not an indicator of the success of marriage any more than sleeping apart a sign that the marriage is in trouble. What saves a marriage is two people who care more about their partner than about themself.
Will separate bedrooms affect my sex life?
It certainly doesn't have to! There's no reason why a couple can't continue having a healthy sex life even if they have separate sleeping arrangements. In fact, visiting your partner's bed may actually improve sex! Another possibility is that it takes the pressure off one or both people. Obligatory sex isn't the best.
When you wake up well-rested and feeling fine, you may find yourself making your way to your partner's bed to cuddle before coffee. Healthy couples will find a way to make this work; having conversations and being open and honest about feelings and desires.
What are some solutions besides to sleep in separate beds?
When your partner tosses and turns all night, pulling the covers off and waking you with all that movement, you might consider a larger bed. A Califonia king memory foam mattress along with your own blanket may completely eliminate this problem.
When making a purchase together, couples should look for a mattress that reduces motion transfer and accommodates differences in body temperature. The ideal mattress for couples will minimize motion transfer by two means: (1) absorbing movement and (2) preventing the aches and pains that stimulate restless motion. Choose a medium-firm mattress (5 – 7 on the firmness scale) that’s simultaneously firm and soft and capable of catering to multiple physiques and sleep styles. Memory foam cradles the body to deter tossing and turning. Alternatively, if one partner prefers less of a cradling sensation, a hybrid mattress is a great compromise.Mattress Comfort Scale
If your partner snores and you want to continue sleeping in the same bed, but you also want to get enough sleep, consider earplugs or white noise. Another alternative would be to help your snoring partner alleviate the problem by seeing a specialist.
Both of you can work on improving sleeping habits so that you aren't waking one another in the middle of the night.
Temperature Preferences Differ
For couples who have different temperature preferences, a hydroponic mattress pad can solve the problem without having to sleep in different rooms. After all, at the end of the day, some people prioritize sleep over snuggling. Besides, cuddling isn't an option when one or both of you feel hot and sweaty.
The hydroponic mattress pad solves a problem that couples have been having for years! He’s hot; she’s cold or vice versa. Now, with a temperature-controlled mattress pad, each of them can sleep at the temperature they find most comfortable.Serious Sleep Hack
Opposite work schedules, kids wanting to sleep with parents, light sleepers, all of these issues can be worked out with a bit of imagination. If you or your partner have a sleep disorder, it can be beneficial to consider sleeping in separate beds.
Again, the most important key is to communicate your needs to your partner. If things get heated, consider getting a therapist to mediate the problem for you. After all, you both will benefit from a better night's sleep.
Sleep is essential to wellness. You want to wake up refreshed and ready to take on the world. Is it normal for married couples to sleep in separate rooms? Yes, if you need to function the next day and want to actually sleep at night time, then you do what you have to do. If you're concerned about having a good marriage, make a plan to work on all the aspects of marriage, while fully rested!
Hopefully, this article has made you feel a little more comfortable with the idea of making sleep a priority while still maintaining a healthy and loving relationship. I'd love to share the “why am I so sleepy?” guide with you, grab yours now!
Book Recommendation: Sharing the Covers, Every Couple's Guide to Better Sleep
Wendy Troxel, a clinical psychologist who wrote Sharing the Covers: Every Couple's Guide to Better Sleep, says she hates the term “sleep divorce” and prefers to think of it as a “sleep alliance.” If you struggle to sleep but are concerned that sleeping separately may negatively impact your relationship this book may help guide you in your journey.