Living with a partner who snores like a freight train and keeps you tossing and turning into the early hours of the morning, forcing you to relocate to the sofa for some undisturbed sleep, can really take a toll on you and your marriage. So much so that couples are considering what’s being dubbed a “sleep divorce”, where partners bed down for the night in separate bedrooms.
While the thought of permanently sleeping in a different room from your other half may seem like a sign of relationship trouble, experts say that it could actually be a good thing.
“I have done a lot of research on this subject, and I always get asked by clients whether sleeping separately from their partner would be hugely beneficial. My answer is yes – as your partner can often be the cause of a bad night’s sleep,” says sleep expert Joy Richards of Happy Beds.
“I think there is a stigma behind couples sleeping separately, with many suggesting it’s a sign that a permanent separation is on the way, but if anything, it probably helps a relationship build as your mood will be improved throughout the day. You won’t be able to blame your partner for keeping you awake with their tossing, turning, or snoring.”
She adds, “I think this stigma needs to be addressed, as sleep divorce is extremely common in many parts of the world, but you often think the worst when you hear that a couple sleep separately.”
Richards notes that lack of sleep can negatively affect your health. Regularly falling short of enough rest can raise your risk of serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. A bad night’s sleep can also affect your productivity at work, make you irritable, and ultimately cause tensions in your relationships during the daytime.
In fact, a study from the University of California, Berkeley found that, over time, sleep deprivation can leave couples “too tired to say thanks” and lead to partners feeling unappreciated.
It’s no wonder then that the trend for solo sleep is growing. According to a recent survey by retailer Mattress Online, a quarter of people would now consider sleeping in a separate bed for a good night’s sleep. It also found that 11 years together is the breaking point for most couples, with 66 percent of participants calling for a sleep divorce after their ten-year anniversary.
As well as snoring, disagreements over room temperature, duvet hogging, sleep talking, and insomnia can all be impetus for a couple to seek a sleep divorce over time. A third of couples surveyed didn’t go to bed at the same time as their partner, which can lead to incompatibility with each other’s sleep cycles – especially over an extended period of time.
If you’re thinking that a sleep divorce might be right for your marriage, you might be wondering about the best way to broach the subject with your partner.
“If you’re worried about getting enough sleep, don’t be ashamed to negotiate sleeping separately,” says sleep expert Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan. “This needs to be navigated carefully, and both sides need to adopt a strategy that they both agree on. The key is to communicate without blame and shame. Make sure that, whilst doing this, there is plenty of care given to building and maintaining intimacy in the relationship.”
Would you ever consider a sleep divorce? Let us know, here.