Benefits of Sleep Divorcea potential relationship saviour?
- 6 February 2024
Have you heard of the phenomenon “Sleep Divorce”? Although couples sleeping together is perceived to be the norm for those who are in relationships, sleeping apart is not a new phenomenon. What’s new is that it is becoming more and more talked about. ‘Sleep divorce’, which has been used to describe the concept, simply means that as a couple, you agree to sleep separately (but the relationship continues as before).
Why more couples are considering a sleep divorce
Why sleep apart? Research shows that many people sleep best alone. Adapting to another person's sleep routine and habits is not easy. Maybe your partner snores so loudly that you can't fall asleep. Or maybe your partner wakes up so easily that you can barely move in bed.
When the time spent together in bed shifts from physical closeness and intimacy to concerns about disturbing each other's sleep, it may be time for a change.
For long-term couples, the decision to sleep apart is likely rooted in a deep understanding of each other's needs and a recognition of the benefits it brings. For parents of young children, it often becomes apparent that sleeping in the same bed may not be possible if everyone wants to get the sleep they need, with challenges such as kids lying crosswise in bed and nocturnal wanderings.
The goal here is to ensure that everyone gets the sleep they need, and sleeping apart is in some cases a practical solution for maintaining the overall well-being of those in the household. Sleeping separately can actually be a way to take care of the relationship and give it better conditions.
Pros of sleep divorce
Improved sleep quality:
Research suggests that many individuals sleep better when they have their own space. Sharing a bed can sometimes lead to disturbances, such as a partner's snoring or constant waking, which can disrupt one's sleep. Quality sleep is essential for emotional well-being. Sleeping apart, when necessary, can help prevent conflicts and bad moods resulting from poor sleep.
...which could lead to enhanced relationships
When the time spent together in bed is no longer associated with disturbed sleep and frustration, it can lead to a more positive and harmonious relationship. It may lead to fewer arguments, and for some, actively scheduling time to talk, and making more efforts to spend time together
Parents of young children often find that sleeping together becomes challenging when children exhibit behaviors like sleeping sideways or wandering at night. Sleep divorce can ensure that everyone in the family gets the rest they need.
Handling different sleep patterns
Couples may have different sleep patterns, with one partner being more tolerant of disturbances than the other. Sleep divorce can alleviate the strain caused by these differences. If one or both partners suffer from sleep difficulties or easily disturb each other at night, sleeping separately can be a practical solution.
Spicing up your relationship
Deciding to sleep separately from each other could also be a good way to have some variety in the relationship. Spicing up your relationship with a new sleeping arrangement, like separate bedrooms, can add excitement and keep things fresh for the long run. It's not just about sleep, it's a demonstration of your willingness to shake up routines and keep the love alive.
Things to consider for those contemplating a sleep divorce
If the bed is typically a place for cuddling and intimacy, sleeping apart may require couples to find alternative ways to maintain physical closeness and intimacy. Sleeping apart could make sex and having intimate moments appear more unnatural than before, especially if both of you have packed schedules.
To keep physical intimacy alive, couples may need to actively seek other opportunities for closeness and affection, such as cuddling before parting ways at night or spending mornings together in bed.
Communication and compromise
Couples may need to communicate and compromise on their sleeping arrangements. There are also several options between sleeping completely apart and always sleeping together, such as going to bed at different times, sleeping separately on weekdays, and together on weekends, to name a few examples.
Are there enough room for you to have separate bedrooms? Space and budget constraints may make this a luxury inaccessible to some. Are there any other alternatives that might help you if you disturb each other during sleep? Could a bigger bed or two single beds in the same room be an alternative if you bother each other during sleep? Or is sleeping with earplugs an option?
Handling societal norms
Society often associates sleeping apart with problems in a relationship. If you decide to sleep apart, try to disregard norms and others' expectations. The more people are open about choosing not to sleep together despite a well-functioning relationship, the easier it will become to discuss the topic without judging.
What happens when couples stop sleeping together?
It depends on the reasons! For some couples, it is important to sleep together; sharing bed makes them they feel a strong closeness to each other, and when they sleep apart, there is a risk of losing that feeling.
The most common arrangement is still that couples sleep together, but sleeping apart is not necessarily a sign that the relationship is heading in the wrong direction. Just as we've discussed in this blog post, there can be many reasons not to share a bed, and it can also be strengthening for the couple.
The most important thing is that both of you can discuss the topic. Try to listen to each other and show understanding for each other's needs. It's common for one person to have more sleep problems or be more disturbed at night than the other. In these cases, one partner may see more benefits in a sleep divorce than the other. It can lead to the person who wants to sleep together feeling rejected or abandoned, while the other person may feel pressured.
It may also be important to investigate other reasons why it's not working to sleep together. If there are issues with snoring, a medical examination for sleep apnea may be warranted. And if a significant part of the problem involves children entering at night, there may be a need to seek help with the children's sleep.
Sleeping apart doesn't have to be a permanent solution either. Make sure to check in with each other from time to time to see how it's working and what you both long for.