Is Sleeping Separately Better For Some Relationships? 5 Common Reasons That Drive Couples Do It
When I was married, my husband and I slept apart. It wasn't for lack of love or lack of intimacy, but simply that he snored. When I say snore, I don't mean the slight cutesy snore that, when you're in love, seems like the most adorable thing in the world, but a snore so loud that it sounded like hundreds of fighter jets were descending upon the city. Granted, I don't know what hundreds of fighter jets descending upon New York would sound like, but you get my point.
According to 2013 research by Toronto's Ryerson University, as many as 30 to 40 percent of couples sleep apart at night. While your first thought might be that that's something only couples who have been together forever do, the reality is that younger couples do it as well.
As Bustle's Pamela J. Hobart wrote for Bustle:
"Do I sleep in [my own bedroom] because I'm mad at my boyfriend? Not in the slightest. In fact, all this higher-quality sleep could only make us more pleasant and agreeable people. Do separate beds and separate rooms keep us from spending quality time (of whatever kind...) together? Nope. Walking across the apartment isn't exactly some huge, burdensome barrier to seeing each other."
Pamela's last sentence is blowing minds left and right, I just know it! But, seriously, if it works for you, to sleep separately, then it works for you. End of story. And, for some couples, it's a relationship saver.
“Research shows that adults need at least seven hours of sleep,” Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. “When we don't get enough sleep we tend to be short tempered, have increased anxiety or mood swings and this can impact your connection with your partner.”
If you can handle these disruptions, then good for you! If you can't, there's no shame in sleeping separately. It's all about figuring out what's best for your relationship. Here are the five most common things that drive couples to sleep apart.
1. It's Really Hard To Sleep With Someone Who Snores
No matter how much you love your partner, if they snore, it can making sharing a bed with them torturous. You never actually sleep and lack of sleep makes for one hell of a cantankerous person. According to Dr. Robert Oexman, director of The Sleep To Live Institute, snoring is the most common disturbance when sleeping with your partner. However, he does suggest trying to fix the problem, before jumping ship.
"SnoreRx or SnoreMD," Dr. Oexman tells Bustle, "These are simple mouth guards that pull the lower jaw slightly forward. This opens the airway in the back of the throat and often eliminates snoring. Positional aids: sleeping in the side position reduces the risk of snoring. A simple tennis ball sewn into the back of a night shirt will encourage the side sleeping position. You can also purchase shirts with devices already sewn into the shirt. Make sure, you have a mattress and pillow that allow pressure reduction on the shoulder so you will be comfortable in the side laying position."
I feel like this is a good place to point that my husband would tie his wrist to the nightstand, so he wouldn't roll on his back and snore more. But, every night, without fail, he'd wiggle his arm out of our makeshift device, and roll onto his back again. My point is that not everything has a 100 percent success rate.
2. Blanket Thieves Are The Worst (Especially In The Winter)
Another thing that makes sleeping with another person a dreadful experience is if they steal sheets and blankets. Of course, if they're asleep, you can't blame them, but it still isn't going to leave you all happy and bushy-tailed in the morning.
"Pulling on sheets and blankets is the second most common cause [of sleeping distractions]," says Oexman. "Try sleeping with separate top sheets and blankets. If you have a queen or king mattress use the standard queen or king fitted sheet. On top of you use a twin sheet and a twin blanket. This will reduce the pulling of covers as you normally move at night and will also reduce the stealing of covers due to temperature changes."
3. It Can Feel Smothering
While there are those who have to be all wrapped up in each other's arms when they sleep, there are others (myself included), that even the slightest touch can send them into a night of total sleeplessness.
"We found that when couples slept in bigger beds they reduced their disturbance," explains Dr. Oexman. "We had each couple sleep in a full-size bed and measured copartner disturbance. When they moved to a queen size bed they reduced their disturbance without any other change. When they went to a king size bed their motion disturbance went down again."
4. Sometimes There's A Need For Different Firmness
I'm a firmness girl. When I got my Casper mattress, it was such a perfect level of firmness that I thought, for sure, I'd never leave my bed again. I actually didn't for that first whole weekend. My husband, on the other hand, liked those mattresses where you feel like you're being swallowed whole. No fun. This is another issue that can make sleeping with a partner less than perfect.
"Research completed by Dr. Edinger and Dr. Krystal from Duke University showed that couples may have different support needs when it comes to their mattress," says Dr. Oexman. He suggests trying to remedy this problem by looking for a retailer that has a Bed Match system, so firmness and support needs for both partner can be accommodated.
5. Sleep Disorders Can Come Into Play
Because snoring isn't enough of a problem when it comes to trying to get some shut-eye with your partner beside you, if one of you (or both of you) suffers from a sleep disorder, then that's a whole other issue entirely.
"Two additional sleep disorders that may cause partners to seek separate bedrooms are periodic limb movement disorder (PLM) and REM Behavior disorder," says Dr. Oexman. "PLM is characterized by rhythmic jerking of the legs or arms. REM Behavior Disorder happens when people act out their dreams. People should seek out the help of a physician that specializes in treating these disorders."
Although Dr. Oexman suggests that trying to remedy these issues before running to another bed is the best plan of attack, it's important to realize that some things just can't be fixed. "If you have sleeping problems try consulting with a sleep professional that is certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy forInsomnia (CBTI)," says Dr. Oexman. "CBTI is very effective in treating insomnia. If all else fails, it is time to change that spare bedroom into a second master retreat."
If it comes down to that, do it. You're under no obligation to sleep in the same bed as your partner and getting a good night's sleep is paramount to our health. Sleeping separately won't just save you from unnecessary illnesses that proper sleep can help avoid, but it can also be the best thing for your relationship, saving that, too.