Many of us are familiar with the popular sitcoms from the ’50s and ’60s, from Dick Van Dyke to I Love Lucy. Couples are often shown on screen sleeping in twin beds separated by a nightstand. Though widely accepted at the time, the concept of separate beds gradually shifted as society’s ideas about marriage, love, and sexuality evolved.
By the 1960s, separate beds began to be seen as a sign of an ailing or distant marriage, despite once being the norm. As of today, many people consider separate beds, or *gasp* separate bedrooms, a taboo and outdated practice.
Yet surprisingly the research and real-life accounts of couples who sleep separately beg otherwise.
What The Research Says
An estimated 61 percent of American adults share a bed, according to one study. This could be due to necessity, such as being tight on living space or not having the funds for separate beds, but the cultural acceptance and even insistence on sharing a bed with a partner probably also plays a big role.
Despite this, research shows that couples who sleep with their spouses sleep much worse. As an example, those sharing a bed with someone who snores have 50 percent more sleep interruptions than those without. As a result, many of those interruptions can lead to resentment, resulting in a strained relationship.
Even though snoring can be a deterrent to a good night’s rest, it wasn’t the only roadblock to sharing a bed. Researchers discovered that couples who have different sleep-wake schedules were more likely to suffer from problems in their relationship when forced to go to bed at the same time.
In addition to the possibility of putting you or your partner in a wonky mood, some studies have also shown that couples who are out of sleep sync may face problems with sexual desire.
Ultimately, does this mean cosleeping with your partner is bad news? Not necessarily.
According to one study, couples who are both asleep and awake at the same time report being more satisfied with their relationships. Is this to say that those with mismatched schedules are doomed? Not if they are aware that moments before and after sleep are essential for healthy relationships. For instance, if one partner goes to bed early, share some time together in bed before going to sleep.
There has been limited research on the effects of couples sleeping apart, so we looked for real-life feedback from those who have tried sleeping separately.
What Real Life Couples Say
AskReddit posed this question: “Married people who sleep in separate bedrooms—how’s it working out for you?” The overwhelming majority of responses highly recommended the practice.
“It was the best decision we ever made,” one person wrote. “My husband and I are utterly incompatible when it comes to our needs for sleeping. Basically, I need some light in the room and some white noise, and he needs complete darkness and silence. We tried to find a middle ground for years, but there simply wasn’t one. One of us was always cranky and tired.”
“We finally decided to try the separate bedrooms thing and it was absolutely life-changing,” they went on to say. “A lot of people think our marriage is in shambles because we sleep in different beds but we don’t give a sh*t. Our sex life is awesome now because we’re not tired all the time anymore.”
“We’re not married but we moved in together last September and we always sleep separately unless we have guests to stay,” another responder explained. “We both like our own space and like to stretch out. He snores a bit. I get up earlier for work than him so don’t want to wake him.”
We have a great relationship, we have regular sex, we just don’t sleep in the same room,” they added. “When you’re asleep you’re unconscious anyway so I don’t see why you need to do that with someone else.”
“Wonderfully. I actually sleep now as opposed to feeling anger and resentment at him for sleeping while his snoring would keep me up night after night,” another commenter chimed in. “I asked for 3 years for him to just see a doctor to see if there was anything that could be done. He thought I should just get over it…Therefore he sleeps elsewhere now.”
“He is welcome to come back to our room, all he has to do is make good on his promise to see a doctor that he never followed through on,” they continued. “If we had to share a room I honestly do believe the further decreased sleep would cause me to snap.”
In the end, there is no magic “one-size-fits-all” sleeping strategy, and what works for one couple may not necessarily work for another. Be sure to do what is right for you and your partner, and most importantly, do what makes you happy.