Is sleeping apart at night the first small step on the slippery slope to divorce, or is having separate bedrooms completely normal? We talk to the experts to find out whether couples should have separate bedrooms.
If you’re married to a snorer or have a partner who hogs all the blankets, spreads out like a starfish or likes to share the bed with a menagerie of animals, you’ve probably spent your fair share of sleepless nights on the couch. No doubt you’ve toyed with the idea of separate bedrooms, but you’ve always believed that a married couple that sleeps together stays together.
Studies suggest sleeping apart is better for your health
Recent studies conducted at Toronto’s Ryerson University found that 30 to 40 per cent of couples sleep apart at night — that’s a third of couples worldwide. Dr. Colleen Carney, director of Ryerson’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory, believes that, based on her clinical observations, sleeping apart is healthier.
Britain’s leading sleep specialist from the University of Surrey, Dr. Neil Stanley, believes sleep deprivation causes a number of serious illnesses, including heart disease and strokes. Lack of sleep can also cause depression and accidents on the road or on the job.
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Is sleeping apart taboo?
Our culture carries the social stigma that sleeping apart means the relationship is on the fast and slippery slope to failure. But what is the difference between slipping away to your own bed after getting a snuggle or turning and rolling away from your partner and staying on your separate side all night?
Author of Love Busters: Overcoming the Habits that Destroy Romantic Love, Dr. Willard Harley, believes separate sleep space might indicate a person has commitment problems and create emotional distance.
On the other hand, relationship expert and author of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Mark Gungor, told SheKnows, “As long as a couple is careful to maintain an active sex life, there is no reason they can’t sleep apart. They are sleeping, for heaven’s sake. It has been my experience that couples suffer from what they do when they are awake, not when they are asleep.”
What should you do?
Ultimately the decision is yours. You need to do what works for you. People who are headed for the divorce court due to sleep deprivation might discover that with a good night’s sleep, they are more relaxed, and problems that seemed insurmountable are solved after sleeping without partner disturbance.
Alternatively, if you believe having separate bedrooms creates a lack of intimacy or your partner doesn’t agree with your decision for a “sleep divorce,” then try a good set of industrial-strength earplugs, separate blankets or buying a bigger bed.