Sleeping cosily together every night in one bed is a pretty widely accepted social norm for couples. Our parents did it — so we do it, right? If a couple you knew were sleeping in different beds, you’d be forgiven for thinking the relationship is likely on shaky ground.
However, this togetherness isn’t some ancient sacred convention, and many couples are ignoring it for the sake of acquiring better sleep.
Research implies there is an apparent shift toward a perhaps more relaxed view of co-sleeping. According to the British Sleep Council, more people — or at least our British cousins — are revealing that they sleep apart. The percentage of couples who claim they sleep this way every night increased from 8% in 2013 to 12% in 2017, and the percentage who sleep away from their partner at least part of the time rose from 22% to 24% during this same period. Another interesting study from Ryerson University in Toronto in 2013, found that up to 40% of couples sleep separately — that’s nearly half!
It’s fairly unclear whether people are actually sleeping apart more often, or if they’re simply becoming more comfortable revealing their sleep habits. Either way, this trend totally scuppers the tradition that partners always sleep side by side.
The press has from time to time told us of Celebrity couples doing it for some years now: some of which even take it a step further by sleeping in separate houses! For us mere mortals a couple choosing to sleep in separate beds — in terms of public expectations — much appears like an avant-garde move. But what if it could benefit your own health and furthermore your relationship? Some experts maintain it can — particularly for those couples living under the same roof — alas, the ones who haven’t signed their first record/movie deal yet.
A 2016 study carried out by Paracelsus Private Medical University in Germany found sleep issues and relationship problems are often linked. “If someone isn’t sleeping well it can cause irritability overall, and heightened focus on things someone else might be doing in the bed (like snoring) which might interrupt proper sleep,” Dr Shelby Harris, author of The Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia, says. “It can lead to more resentment overall.”
Giving it a go.
Resentment is toxic to relationships and if left alone to fester can have devastating effects — It can also ultimately drive a couple to look at sleeping in separate beds before they’ve even considered the beneficial reasons to do so!
Being fully transparent with your partner about what’s behind the decision seems to be key. “First and foremost, there needs to be a crystal-clear understanding of why the trial is happening,” rationalises Jennifer Adams, author of Sleeping Apart Not Falling Apart. “Is it because one person in the couple is having their sleep disturbed by the other person, from snoring, restless legs or device use? Or is it because environmental needs differ so much that it’s impacting on one person’s ability to sleep well, like room temperature, lighting or noise?”
We can surely all empathise with this last statement: who hasn’t held a late-night debate with their partner on the benefits of the ceiling fan being on HIGH rather than MED.
“Some couples feel strongly that sleeping apart has made their relationship more solid,” states Ken Page, a psychotherapist based in New York City and the author of Deeper Dating and the host of a podcast by the very same name. “I have worked with couples who have said that not having to worry about their sleep being disturbed was such a relief that it allowed them to appreciate the good things in their relationship and lifted any resentment they may have felt in the past.”
Sleeping separately with your Hyber Nation blanket is a perfectly plausible course of action; after all our blankets are made for individuals and not to be shared. Sure, cosying up with your other half each under your weighted blanket whilst indulging your latest Netflix obsession sounds idyllic — and it is.
Remember though, should you want to, you can then go your own way when it’s time to hit the hay.