It is commonly accepted that partners who live together also share a bed for sleep. While snuggling with our loved ones can benefit our relationships, the impact on our health is a matter of debate.
The concept of “sleep divorce,” where partners choose to sleep in separate beds or rooms, is not uncommon. According to a 2023 survey conducted by the Sleep Foundation, which involved 1,250 adults in the US, 1.4 percent of respondents had been sleeping separately from their partners for a year or longer. Interestingly, slightly more than half of the respondents (52.9 percent) reported that sleeping in isolation had improved their sleep quality.
On the other hand, 25.7 percent of respondents who had tried sleeping separately had returned to sharing a bed with their partners, which in turn increased their sleep duration.
For just over a third of couples, the decision to end their sleep divorce was due to missing each other’s presence. How sweet!
According to a 2023 survey conducted by The New York Times, which included 2,200 US adults, one in five couples now sleep in separate bedrooms at least some of the time. Although it may not be the norm, it appears that more people are open to the idea.
Perhaps the term “sleep divorce” is too harsh. The NYT article suggests that couples who experiment with separate sleeping arrangements do so for various reasons, including conflicting schedules, a need for personal space, late-night screen use, and, as expected, snoring.
The Sleep Foundation spoke to Regina Cross, a 43-year-old individual from Missouri, who originally started sleeping separately from her husband when she was pregnant. However, even after the baby was born, they continued with separate sleeping arrangements.
“We realized that we both sleep better apart, and we have been doing that for more than nine years now,” says Regina.
“When we sleep, we’re in different rooms, but we still maintain an active intimate life.”
A 2020 study involving 12 healthy heterosexual couples discovered that when couples slept together, they experienced 10 percent more Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep that helps consolidate memories and regulate emotions.
Another study conducted in 2022 with 1,000 participants found that sharing a bed with a partner resulted in more sleep during the night, reduced fatigue the following day, and quicker sleep onset. Another advantage of sleeping together.
What we do know for certain is that getting good quality sleep on a regular schedule, without disturbances, is crucial for our physical and mental well-being. When we lack sufficient sleep, it negatively impacts our productivity, impairs our ability to concentrate, and increases the long-term risk of various diseases.
Therefore, when it comes to sleep arrangements, do what works best for you, your partner, and your relationship. It is evident that separate sleeping can work for some couples while not being suitable for others. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, just as with sleep itself.