couple on couch

My Husband and I Have Been Sleeping Separately for 7 Years, and Now We’re Happier

You’ve probably heard the myth that if a couple sleeps apart, their relationship is doomed. It’s the supposed first crack, the first sign that all is not well between the couple. But in reality, this is far from the truth. [1] So many happy couples slumber apart, a decision that actually helps and strengthens their connection. And that is definitely the case for one writer and her husband.

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Trying to Sleep in Separate Beds

In a post on Brightside, one woman explained that she and her husband lived together for eight years. And for seven of them, they’ve slept apart. It all began when she woke up one day alone in bed although they had gone to bed together. She found him slumbering peacefully on the couch. 

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“I lost you last night,” she said to him over breakfast, “why did you go to the other room?”

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“You know, I couldn’t fall asleep,” he said. “You were twisting and turning and breathing loudly and I woke up every time you moved.”

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That night, they went to bed together and woke up separately again. “In the conversation, we realized that it was hard for us to sleep together. My boyfriend remembered all our arguments that happened because he hadn’t slept enough: he snored, I woke him up, he didn’t have enough sleep, and he was irritated. 

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“Sometimes, I snored, he woke me up, and then I was unable to fall back asleep. Often, one of us would wake up because it was hot or because the other one got up to drink some water, and once I had a weird dream and I poked my boyfriend right in the eye.”

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Being perfectly compatible in their relationship didn’t equate to bed compatibility. They kept different schedules and they kept distributing each other’s slumber, making them more nervous and irritable during the day. Not the best recipe for a happy home.

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So they tried sleeping in different bedrooms. She was hesitant at first but he adapted much faster. “It was a little weird for me because I was used to the fact that people sleep together… And my boyfriend felt great: he fell asleep much faster, he woke up easily, he made breakfast for us, and went to work happy.”

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Read: 10 unexpected things that show a marriage won’t last long

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But What About Spooning?!

When people learned about this separate bed arrangement, often their first question is what happens with sex and cuddling. And the answer is simple. Sex and sleep are unrelated. It’s not difficult for couples to spend some of their waking hours cuddling and spending time together. But when it’s time to sleep and only sleep, the couple goes to their separate beds. And the next morning, feeling rested and refreshed, they get right back to showing affection for each other. 

Sex and spooning shouldn’t be a reason to slumber in the same bed. Especially if neither of the partners is sleeping well. Remember, every couple is different. There’s no right answer to every situation. Don’t worry about the myth that ‘sleep divorce’ is the first step to actual divorce. Do what’s best for the relationship. 

Kelly Burch says it best in a post about her and her husband sleeping in separate beds in the same room. “As for our sex life, it’s the same as ever. Now, when we want to be intimate, we just look at each other and ask, ‘Your place or mine?’” [2]

“Sometimes it’s just better to sleep apart”

According to Robert Adams, a professor in respiratory and sleep medicine at Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health, 17% of 2,040 Australian adults married or living with their partner slept alone in 2019. This could be because of multiple reasons, like snoring, sleep disorders, incompatible sleep schedules, restlessness, etc.

Interestingly, Adams also discovered that 22% of cohabiting adults would like to sleep alone but don’t. So 11% wear eye masks or earplugs to deal with their partner’s habits, and 13% change their schedule to adjust to each other.

Dr. Alix Mellor, a postdoctoral research fellow in the sleep and circadian medicine laboratory in Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, states that people should de-stigmatize sleeping in separate beds. Mellor also notes that studies have shown that poor sleep causes many negative outcomes, like reduced physical and mental health, and more unhappiness in the relationship. 

“There’s a real need to normalize the fact that sometimes it’s just better to sleep apart and that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a really fulfilling relationship,” Mellow said. She added that there are many ways to bond outside of bed. “It’s also important to remember that sexual intimacy doesn’t always have to occur in bed.” [3]

Ultimately, it’s up to the couple to decide if this is right for them, but sleeping apart is by no means the end. Infact, it may be the beginning of a happier more rested relationship.

Keep Reading: 15 Things Couples Forget to Discuss Before Getting Married

Sources:

  1. Wendy Troxel. “’Separate Beds Are a Bad Sign’ and 5 Other Sleep Myths That Are Hurting Your Relationship.” Time. June 2, 2021
  2. Kelly Burch. “After 12 years together, my husband and I started sleeping in separate beds. It’s the best self-care I’ve done as a mom.” Insider. October 4, 2021
  3. Denise Cullen. “Together apart: why sleeping in separate beds is not always the beginning of the end.” The Guardian. August 11, 2020
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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