When most people think of married couples sleeping in separate bedrooms, they picture either a troubled relationship or one with Victorian-era ideas about the role of sex in a partnership. However, it’s now estimated that 25% of American couples sleep apart. In fact, many new homes are being designed with two master bedrooms. But is this rising trend of solo slumber actually beneficial to those that try it? Experts seem to be split.
Couples who choose to sleep separately have different reasons for doing so. Some are on wildly different schedules and don’t want to disturb one another. Others are trying to get away from a partner that snores or moves around too much during the night. It’s also common among new parents whose sleep schedules are already in shambles.
Proponents of separate bedrooms claim that it’s beneficial for both partners, because they deeper, more restorative sleep. Some studies claim that sleeping alone allows for up to 50% less disrupted sleep. Waking up more refreshed is just the beginning; good sleep also helps with weight loss, mental clarity, recovery from illness, and a litany of other benefits that are just now being understood. Sleep experts also claim that when couples are well-rested, it improves their communication and overall satisfaction with each other.
On the other hand, many sleep specialists believe sleeping apart is the wrong solution to sleep problems. They recommend making sure your bedroom is a sleep-friendly zone, with a high quality mattress and appropriate temperature and lighting. Just about everyone agrees making your bedroom an electronics-free zone without televisions or computers is a great step for a less disruptive nighttime. It’s also suggested you work with your partner when possible to compromise on sleep habits – such as a lights out bedtime. If these things aren’t working, the next step may be to contact a medical professional who specializes in sleep disorders.
There are several reasons couples might consider going through all the steps listed above instead of simply sleeping in separate rooms. Most people reported feeling a better sense of togetherness when sleeping in the same bed. Many people said they felt the few minutes before bedtime were some of the only, and therefore most precious, moments they got to spend with their partner. Additionally, having a partner in close proximity leads to more sex and intimacy, which is vital to most people for a healthy relationship. Finally, several cases were cited where one partner had a health crisis in the night, such as a stroke, heart attack or seizure, that was addressed much faster due to having their partner right next to them.
While there is no one right answer for the best way for you and your partner to live your life and get the best night’s sleep possible, it seems fair to say that before you and your partner move into different bedrooms, you should assess other aspects of your sleep habits and hygiene that may be contributing to disruptive sleep.