Have you ever had those nights where he just can’t stop snoring and you wake up the next morning ready to lash out at whoever crosses your path? Or maybe, she can’t stop moving around while she’s sleeping, and you’re left groggy all day. Perhaps one of you gets up at freaking 5:30 am and the other likes to sleep in? We bring to you a solution you’ve definitely considered before, at least in your own mind: sleep divorce.
No, sleep divorce is not you dreaming about a divorce. It simply means sleeping in a different bed from your partner or even in a different room if required. That sounds like a great idea, right? No longer will you need four cups of coffee to get you through the day. Say goodbye to your dark circles. But wait, will your marriage suffer?
Sharing a bed is seen as one of the most intimate things a couple can do. On the other hand, a couple sleeping in different rooms often sparks all sorts of malicious gossip. We’re all so used to the idea that sharing a bed is an indicator of a healthy and functional relationship; but what if it starts resulting in poor sleep or no sleep at all?
To answer all your questions, we’ve turned to psychologist Ridhi Golechha (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in physical, mental, and emotional health counseling. We break down everything to do with this new trend so you can make your decision without too many sleepless nights.
What Is Sleep Divorce?
As mentioned, sleep breakup means sleeping in two separate beds either in the same room or different, depending on your situation. Now, if someone told you, “My husband and I sleep in separate rooms because of my sleep apnea,” you’d immediately question the strength of their marriage, right? Well, maybe you shouldn’t. Signs of a bad marriage are completely different.
Think about it, who even told you that you absolutely have to sleep together with your partner every night? Especially if it’s affecting your sleep. Thoughts like, “That’s just how it’s always been!” and “Those who sleep apart grow apart” might be rushing to your mind right now. But did you know that David and Victoria Beckham practiced solo sleeping too? And they seem to be doing pretty well.
A survey by a bedding company found that 1 in every 12 participating American couples has already given sleep breakup a shot. This kind of sleeping arrangement has helped a lot of people. When you don’t have to hear the deathly loud snores or the meticulously acted-out dreams of your sleep-talking partner, who wouldn’t fancy a marriage of solo sleeping? Are you telling me you aren’t even a little curious?
Related Reading: 8 Reasons Why Separate Bedrooms Are Good For Married Couples
How Common Is Sleep Divorce?
Not only do the Beckhams prove that it’s a healthy practice for cohabitating couples, but Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip never slept in the same bed. And their marriage lasted 74 years. Also, television’s famous face Carson Daly recently talked in an interview about splitting beds with his wife, “We both, admittedly, slept better apart.” If royalty and celebrity stories don’t inspire much confidence in you, maybe science and statistics will.
Let us give you a reality check. According to a survey, 75% of Americans admitted that co-sleeping with their partner affects their quality of sleep and 25% reported that the situation has worsened since the pandemic. In another similar poll run in America, 19% of 2,000 respondents blamed their live-in partners for a disrupted sleeping condition. And in a survey of 3,000 Americans, 30% of the participants admitted their desire for a sleep divorce.
So, if you are feeling guilty for secretly wanting a sleep breakup with your spouse/partner, don’t. It shows you genuinely care about this relationship and are willing to make adjustments to sustain it. We get it, it’s a big decision. You are probably worried about feeling disconnected due to the impending lack of physical touch. Plus, there’s probably an awkward conversation you’d have to have with your partner.
But, studies claim that sleeping separately can improve the quality of sleep because of fewer disruptions. It doesn’t necessarily suggest that your relationship has fallen into a pit and couples should be open to having a healthy conversation in this regard. If executed sensitively, this can be a blessing for your marriage.
How To Ask For A Sleep Divorce?
Before you make up your mind to jump in on the sleep divorce trend, it’s important to understand how you should go about asking your partner for one. After all, you don’t want your partner to be anxiously awake the entire night, wondering about the health of your relationship. “I’m not getting enough sleep, let’s try sleeping in separate blankets (or beds)” might easily be misinterpreted as “I don’t like sleeping with you, I want to sleep alone” as a result of poor communication. So, choosing your words carefully is vital. Instead, you can say,
“Honey, we both know this disturbed sleeping pattern is hampering our everyday routine. We get cranky, we are always tired. I have a proposal that might solve this problem. But before I say anything, you must know that it does not in any way mean that I love you any less or don’t find you attractive anymore. Will you be open to the idea of sleeping in two separate beds from now on?”
Speaking about how you should go about asking your partner for a sleep divorce, Ridhi shares a few important points to consider, “When you are about to have this discussion, make sure your relationship has good stability and bonding. If either partner is insecure, asking for a sleep separation might trigger their insecurity even more.
“If either of you has an insecure attachment style, you need to approach such a proposition delicately. You must ensure that your partner doesn’t take this as a sign of rejection and starts feeling unwanted. The solo sleeping arrangement should be opted when you both feel secure and loved in your bond and can happily acknowledge each other’s need for personal space.”
Related Reading: 8 Subtle Signs Of Insecurity In A Relationship
How to make sleep divorce work without hurting your partner
Understandably, asking your partner for a sleep breakup is a tricky prospect. Even though the sleep divorce trend is on the rise, the stigma attached to the act of sleeping apart is still enough to warrant a few judgmental looks from people you know. Even so, if it feels like the right thing to do, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go ahead with it.
But before you do, have a game plan ready to make sure the situation doesn’t go out of hand in case your partner’s reaction is very disapproving. At this point, it’s your duty to clarify that you are not pushing the love of your life away. Depriving yourselves of physical affection is so not the intention of this plan. Here’s how you can strike a balance between your sexual health and personal space:
- Don’t verbally attack your partner for ruining your sleep cycle
- Use ‘we’ pronouns instead of ‘you’
- Reassure them that it has nothing to do with your emotional or physical bonding
- Address the sleep disorder your partner has and look for remedies like nasal sprays or other prescribed sleep medications
- If snoring is not the problem, you may consider two single beds in the same room
- Set aside time each night to get in bed with your partner to cuddle, feel each other’s touch, have sex and intimate conversations
- Ask your partner to name their terms instead of forcing your wishes on them
9 Ways A Sleep Divorce Can Help Your Marriage
We’re not saying you have to strictly stop sleeping together with your beloved significant other every single night. You can hop into bed with your partner whenever you want. Stay the night even, it’s cold outside of the blanket anyway (and we all know how important sex is in a relationship). But if the snoring or the kicking starts, you know you always have your own bed to go to. And here’s why you should get your own bed:
1. You get to miss your partner
Ever since the pandemic, working from home has become a way of life which basically means you’re spending most of your time with your partner. And we’re sure every couple would agree that constantly being together can get a bit much. You need space in a relationship to survive and grow, and being joined at the hip for 24 hours isn’t going to do you any favor.
Ridhi says “Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That saying holds more truth than we care to admit. You must’ve noticed that when you or your partner are away on trips, you start missing them more. Your rational brain starts thinking about gratitude and all the good things in your dynamic, instead of constantly thinking of the shortcomings.
“Once the spotlight from the negatives of your bond shifts to the positives, the distance ends up creating a healthier attachment. When you turn to separate beds before falling asleep, you definitely get a chance to miss your partner, which, in turn, can lead to a greater appreciation for each other and your relationship.”
Spending the nights apart will not only make for more peaceful sleep but will also give you time to yearn for your partner to be with you. If you get through the night without climbing into their bed, you’ll be able to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with your partner the next morning, with no resentment over lost sleep. We bet by now you’re starting to believe a bit in the whole sleep divorce trend, aren’t you?
Related Reading: How Sleeping In Separate Beds Made Them A Happier Couple
2. You’ll finally get enough sleep to survive the day
The number one reason why you should throw the ‘those who sleep apart grow apart’ paradigm into the trash is that you’ll finally be able to get enough sleep. You won’t be putting salt in your coffee and sugar in your eggs. You’d wake up refreshed instead of heavy-eyed and grumpy.
And you won’t be looking over to the other side of the bed with disgust, planning a murder in your head. Instead, you might just go over and hug your partner good morning. Heck, you may even feel like bringing them breakfast in bed. When was the last time you did that as a way of showing affection? Whoever said “you can’t make others happy unless you are happy” was damn right!
3. Studies say it helps the marriage
Is solo sleeping a healthy strategy for marriage or couples who are living together? The data seems to suggest so. Research claims that getting better sleep increases the overall quality of marital life. And, there are also studies pointing out that a lack of sleep may result in nastier fights.
We already told you how sleep divorce is on the rise and with good reason too. We’re not saying it’ll all be smooth sailing, though. You will need to ease into it with your spouse. Maybe surprise them with a bunch of roses, spice up the makeout sessions, cuddle before saying goodnight, and hop into your own bed for a peaceful sleep, minus the snoring/grunting/kicking. Trust us, you’ll like your partner so much more in the morning.
4. The time you spend together will be a lot more fulfilling
Often in relationships, we end up chasing the amount of time spent together rather than focusing on what we’re doing during those precious hours together. If you’re with each other all day, chances are you might just end up taking each other for granted, since the humdrum of life might translate into boredom in your relationship.
Ridhi tells us how sleep separation may be able to rectify, dare we say it, a boring relationship. “Often we look at the time with our partner from a perspective of quantity over quality. It’s always about “How much time are you spending with me?” and not necessarily about “What are we doing in this limited time that we’re spending together?”
“When you change the focus from spending more time together to spending quality time together, it’ll have a positive impact on your relationship. In this day and age, couples are busy and have a very hectic ‘hustle culture’ life. That’s the reason their sleep quality and the quality of their relationships need to be at the top of their game and sleeping apart can help with both.”
Related Reading: The 7 Fundamentals Of Support In A Relationship
5. No more “You’re on my side!”
When you were dating, you couldn’t wait to snuggle up to your partner. And now, it has come down to this – their immovable leg on ‘your’ side of the bed makes you super angry. You both have your own pillows and blankets and yet almost every night, one person hogs all of the space, and the other struggles to not fall off hanging on the edge of the bed.
When you’re sleeping on your own bed, these problems will never bother you again. No longer will the eight inches of the bed be ‘your’ side. You will have all the room you need, all to yourself. Bed solutions for couples don’t get simpler than this and many other common relationship problems such as incessant bickering and arguing will also get addressed in the process. Instead of figuring out what to do with your arms all night, you’ll finally be able to focus on sleeping.
6. It’ll improve physical intimacy and sex life
If you’re sharing a bed but anticipating a restless night, a visual representation of your bedtime with your partner probably wouldn’t feature romantic music in the background or you lovingly staring into your partner’s eyes. It would feature both of you saying goodnight, finding a comfortable position, and trying to sleep. Without even a hint of cuddling.
When sharing the same bed, you might sometimes just have sex/cuddle for the sake of it. When you’re sleeping in separate beds and you start missing your partner, you’ll go over to cuddle because you actually want to. You’ll initiate sex more passionately and willingly. Can you think of any better way to keep the spark alive after ten years of married life or more?
Related Reading: 10 Simple Rules For A Happy Marriage
8. Stay married longer by being healthier
It’s no surprise that getting a full night of quality sleep for at least 7 hours has multiple health benefits. Studies show that when you get a good night’s rest, your muscles get a chance to recover. You feel well-rested and your overall sleep schedule gets better. If you tend to feel anxious or depressed or suffer from some other mental illness, a whole host of studies claim how crucial it is for you to be getting a good night’s rest.
An average person spends 25 years of their life asleep, make sure you’re not just twisting and turning but actually sleeping for those 25 years. With a sleep breakup, you’ll be able to do so without having to pop sleep medicine every night or visit a sleep specialist.
“Do I need a sleep divorce?” Take this quiz to find out
Sleep separation can turn out to be a very sensitive issue for many people. Even professional therapists don’t outright prescribe it to couples with troubled sleeping situations. Rather they would lay down the positive and negative aspects of this arrangement and leave it for the couple to decide what works best for their marriage. In case you are not sure what warrants you to ask your partner to sleep separately, this quiz might help you prioritize your needs:
- Does your partner’s excessive snoring annoy you too much? Yes/No
- Do they keep kicking you off the bed throughout the night? Yes/No
- Do they come to bed very late waking you up? Yes/No
- Do they have a habit of scrolling their phone or working from the bedroom till late? Yes/No
- Do you feel anxious before going to bed? Yes/No
- Are getting more and more dependent on sleeping pills? Yes/No
- Does your partner’s body heat under the sheets bother you? Yes/No
- Do you always need a drink before bed to help you fall asleep? Yes/No
- Is your sex life taking a serious hit due to the lack of sleep? Yes/No
- Are you and your partner fighting a lot throughout the day? Yes/No
If your answer to more than 6 of these questions is a yes, you should seriously consider shifting to a separate bed. Remember, the problems may lie with you too. Be attentive if your partner is facing similar troubles sleeping beside you.
- Sleep divorce isn’t an actual separation between two partners; it only means you sleep in different beds
- Several sleep disorders or different sleep schedules and bedtime habits might lead to this arrangement
- The idea is to get good sleep to keep yourself sane and save your marriage from falling apart
- To make sure sleep separation doesn’t trigger serious conflicts between two partners, it’s important to approach this matter sensitively; choose your words carefully when discussing a sleep breakup
- You should set aside some time for physical intimacy and bedtime conversations before going to sleep
At the end of the day, if you’re struggling with getting enough sleep and feel groggy the next day because of the pressure to sleep on the same bed as your partner, sleeping solo will most definitely come to your rescue. Considering how sleep divorce is on the rise, we’re pretty sure the stigma attached to sleeping apart will soon fade away too. What are you waiting for? Go buy those two single beds you’ve always wanted but were too shy to bring up. Just send your spouse this article, and they’ll get the hint.
This article has been updated in Oct, 2022.
Yes, it is absolutely okay for married couples to sleep apart. Given that you both realize that this isn’t done as a sign of resentment and is being done only to sleep properly. If one of the parties involved is not happy about sleeping separately, it should be avoided. But if both parties are willing, a sleep breakup can have a whole lot of benefits. You’ll sleep better, feel physically and mentally better, you’ll get a chance to miss your partner and your sex life may just improve too.
If you’re racing to fall asleep first, if your partner’s snoring/kicking about keeps you up all night, and if you directly blame your partner for not being able to get sleep, it’s probably time for you to split the beds. Other signs include you can’t go to sleep without putting earplugs in, having a drink prior to bed, or taking sleeping pills. Sleeping naturally is the best way to do it, and since the solo sleeping trend is on the rise, you could try it out.
If one partner is not fully sold on the idea of sleep splitting, he/she could develop feelings of resentment. It’s important to make sure that all the partners are completely on board. As long as that’s taken care of and sexual and intimacy needs are properly communicated, there aren’t many cons to a sleep breakup. Except, of course, having to clean double the number of sheets.