Sleep Divorce: Should Couples Sleep Together Or Separate?

sleep divorce

Sleep divorce refers to the practice of sleeping apart from your partner to improve your sleep quality. This could be due to various reasons, such as escaping your partner's snoring or their restless movements during the night. Another reason could be that you and your partner have different sleeping preferences. For instance, if one of you prefers a cooler sleeping environment while the other prefers to be bundled up with blankets.

Is Sleep Divorce Good Or Bad?

Sleep divorce, also known as “sleep separation” or “sleep autonomy,” refers to the practice of couples choosing to sleep in separate beds or rooms to improve their sleep quality. This phenomenon has gained popularity in recent years, with an increasing number of couples opting for this arrangement to address sleep issues such as snoring, different sleep schedules, or restless leg syndrome. However, the question remains: is sleep divorce good or bad for relationships? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of sleeping separately with your partner.


Improved Sleep Quality

The most significant benefit of sleep divorce is the potential for improved sleep quality. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require an average of 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and consistent poor sleep can lead to various health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.). By sleeping separately, couples can reduce the disturbances caused by their partner’s movements or noises, leading to more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

Increased Independence 

Sleeping apart can foster a sense of independence within a relationship. As Dr. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep medicine specialist, explains, “Sleeping apart can actually help people feel more connected during waking hours because they are well-rested and have more energy for their partner” (Burke, 2018). This independence can contribute to a healthier relationship dynamic by allowing each individual to maintain their unique identity and preferences.

Reduced Conflict

Sleep divorce can help minimize conflicts related to sleep disturbances. A 2007 study found that couples who reported poor sleep were more likely to experience marital distress. By addressing sleep issues through separation, couples may reduce the frequency and intensity of disagreements arising from sleep disturbances.

Enhanced Intimacy

While it may seem counterintuitive, sleeping apart can potentially lead to increased intimacy. Some couples report that sleeping apart makes their time together more special and intimate. By designating a specific time and space for physical intimacy, couples may find that their connection deepens in other aspects of their relationship.

couple on phones


Emotional Distance

One potential drawback of sleep divorce is the risk of emotional distance between partners. Sleeping apart can lead to feelings of isolation or disconnection if not properly managed. Couples must make a concerted effort to maintain open communication and spend quality time together to prevent emotional distance from negatively impacting their relationship.

Reduced Sexual Activity

Sleeping apart can result in decreased sexual encounters due to the physical separation. While this may not be problematic for all couples, those who place a high value on sexual intimacy may find that sleep divorce negatively impacts this aspect of their relationship.

Stigma and Social Perception

There remains a social stigma surrounding sleep divorce, with some viewing it as a sign of relationship failure. This perception can put pressure on couples considering this arrangement and potentially contribute to feelings of shame or embarrassment. It is essential for couples to recognize that sleep divorce is a personal decision based on individual needs and circumstances rather than an indicator of relationship health.

Financial Considerations

Some couples may need to spend extra money on separate bedding or bedroom furniture if they choose to have a sleep divorce. This might not be a big deal for some, but for others, it could put a strain on their budget or create unnecessary financial stress. Each partner may have different preferences when it comes to mattress firmness, pillow type, or even the number of blankets they prefer. To ensure that both partners are comfortable and able to get a good night's sleep, they may need to invest in separate mattresses, pillows, and bedding sets.

What Is The Sleep Divorce Rate?

Studies show that approximately 20-25% of married couples sleep separately. The percentage may differ based on the source and the specific group being researched. For example, a 2019 survey by the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S. revealed that 17% of married couples sleep in different beds, while a 2018 study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia stated that 25% of married couples in the U.S. sleep in separate rooms.

Married couples may choose to sleep apart due to reasons like snoring, different sleep schedules, personal space preferences, or cultural influences. Some couples believe that sleeping separately can enhance their sleep quality and relationship satisfaction. However, it's important to remember that these statistics are not definitive and can be impacted by factors such as age, gender, and cultural background.

Why Are More Couples Considering A Sleep Divorce?

In recent years, the concept of a “sleep divorce” has gained traction among couples as a potential solution to sleep-related issues that can impact the quality of their relationship. While sharing a bed has long been considered a symbol of intimacy and closeness in a relationship, the idea of sleeping apart is becoming more accepted as couples prioritize their individual sleep needs and overall well-being.

Sleep Quality

One of the primary reasons couples opt for a sleep divorce is to improve their quality of sleep. Factors like snoring, tossing and turning, or differing temperature preferences can significantly impact how well individuals rest during the night. By sleeping separately, partners can create an environment that is conducive to better sleep without disturbances.

Health Benefits

Adequate and uninterrupted sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health issues, including increased stress levels, weakened immune system, weight gain, and heightened risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. For some couples, prioritizing individual sleep needs through a sleep divorce can result in improved health outcomes.

Relationship Harmony

While the idea of sleeping apart may seem counterintuitive to fostering intimacy, it can actually benefit the relationship by reducing tension and conflicts arising from poor sleep quality. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, mood swings, and communication breakdowns, all of which can strain a relationship. By ensuring both partners get adequate rest through a sleep divorce, they may find themselves more patient, understanding, and emotionally available when awake.

Personal Space

Sharing a bed every night does not allow much personal space or time alone for each partner. Sleeping separately can provide individuals with the opportunity to unwind in solitude, engage in personal bedtime routines without disruption, or simply have some quiet time before falling asleep.

Different Sleep Schedules

Couples with vastly different sleep schedules due to work commitments or other reasons may find it challenging to synchronize their rest times. Sleeping separately allows each partner to follow their natural sleep patterns without disturbing the other’s routine.

Couples Stop Sleeping Together

Are Couples Who Sleep Separately Happier?

Couples who sleep separately may experience higher levels of relationship satisfaction and better sleep quality. Sleeping apart may lead to more peaceful sleep due to the fact that people are less disturbed by their partner’s movements when they are sleeping apart. This is especially 

Improved sleep quality can lead to increased relationship satisfaction. A study published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that couples who reported poor sleep quality were more likely to report marital dissatisfaction. Furthermore, people who sleep better may be more positive in their interactions with their partners the next day.

Sleeping separately can also reduce conflict in relationships. Snoring, for example, is a common source of conflict among couples. A study published in the journal Chest found that 39% of partners of snorers reported relationship disturbances due to snoring. Sleeping separately can eliminate this source of conflict and improve overall relationship satisfaction.

However, it’s important to note that sleeping separately is not a solution for all relationship issues. It’s crucial for couples to communicate openly about their reasons for sleeping apart and to ensure that both partners feel comfortable with the arrangement. Additionally, sleeping apart should not be used as a way to avoid addressing underlying relationship issues.

Is It Good For Married Couples To Sleep Apart?

Experts in therapy and sleep studies agree that it's acceptable for couples to sleep in separate beds due to the significant impact of quality sleep. This goes against the traditional belief that sleeping apart signifies the end of romance in a marriage. Quality sleep is crucial for physical health, mental clarity, and emotional stability. When a partner's snoring, tossing and turning, or different sleep schedules lead to consistent sleep disruption, it can lead to chronic sleep deprivation and a range of negative consequences.

Sleep deprivation affects an individual's mood and cognitive abilities and can strain a relationship. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, decreased patience, and heightened emotional reactivity, which can easily spill over into daily interactions and communication with a partner. Over time, this can create tension and conflict, eroding the romance and intimacy that are essential for a healthy marriage.

By embracing the idea of separate beds, couples can prioritize their individual sleep needs without compromising their relationship. This approach allows each partner to create an optimal sleep environment tailored to their preferences, whether it's a different mattress firmness, temperature, or noise level. It also eliminates the disturbances caused by a partner's movements or snoring, enabling both individuals to enjoy uninterrupted sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

Moreover, sleeping in separate beds does not necessarily mean sacrificing intimacy or connection. Couples can still maintain a strong emotional bond by intentionally carving out quality time together before bed or in the morning. This can involve engaging in activities that promote closeness, such as cuddling, talking, or engaging in shared interests. By prioritizing quality time when awake, couples can strengthen their emotional connection and maintain the romance in their relationship.

For some couples, sharing a bed is an integral part of their relationship and provides a sense of comfort and closeness. However, the recognition that separate beds can be a viable option for couples allows for a more inclusive understanding of what works best for each individual and relationship.

What Happens When Couples Stop Sleeping Together?

When couples stop sleeping together, they may enjoy more personal space and independence in their sleep routines. This can lead to better rest and reduced disturbances during the night. If one partner has disruptive sleep patterns or conditions like insomnia, sleeping separately may lead to improved sleep quality for both individuals. Furthermore, sleeping separately can sometimes reduce conflicts related to different sleep habits, such as snoring, tossing and turning, or different preferences for room temperature or bedding.

On the other hand, the physical intimacy that comes with sharing a bed can foster emotional closeness and connection between partners. Sleeping apart may lead to feelings of emotional distance over time. For some couples, not sharing a bed can impact their intimate life. Sharing a bed often provides an opportunity for partners to communicate before falling asleep or waking up. Sleeping separately may reduce these moments of connection and communication. Therefore, the lack of physical proximity during sleep may affect overall intimacy levels in the relationship.

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