Can a happy couple really sleep in separate beds or bedrooms, and expect to stay happy? According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, it’s more common than you think. According to the study, nearly 1 in 4 American adults sleep in a separate place than their partner, and rarely does it have anything to do with problems in the relationship. Instead, common reasons for sleeping separately range from snoring, sheet-hogging and persistent tossing and turning.
If you’re considering swapping the single shared mattress for two beds, follow these recommended steps to make the transition easy and positive.
Make sure the change is for the right reasons.
If you want to try sleeping in separate rooms, it needs to be to improve the quality of your sleep, not as a way of avoiding unresolved issues in the relationship. If marital issues— and not sleep issues—are your reason for the move, it’s going to harm the relationship, not help it. However, better sleep can make your relationship better. It can have you both waking up more rested and happier. More importantly, it can keep resentment over your partner’s differing sleep habits to a minimum.
Ignore the myths.
You may feel like moving out of the shared bedroom is somehow a failure. After all, don’t people in happy relationships want to share everything, including the bed? One notable survey found that almost a quarter of couples who sleep in separate rooms don’t talk about it with their friends and family, because they’re afraid people will think their relationship is failing. This is all while the National Sleep Foundation found that more than a third of respondents said that their partners disturb their sleep.
The trick is reminding yourself that you can have a successful marriage and a good night’s sleep. Susan Heitler, PHD and clinical psychologist said, “I see lots of clients who sleep in separate bedrooms and have better marriages as a result.”
Make the decision together.
Before many couples make the decision to sleep in separate rooms, they’ve already made a habit of moving to another room or guest bedroom in the middle of the night. The best way to decide on separate bedrooms is to do it together. Have a frank talk about what’s keeping you awake—and determine whether or not a separate location for sleep could help. Know who is going where and how you’re going to work it out. Solving the problem together is going to strengthen, not harm, your relationship.
Determine a game plan for intimacy.
A top concern among those resistant to sleeping in separate places is the tricky business of healthy intimacy. Sleeping in separate rooms doesn’t mean losing the good parts of sharing a bed, so long as a healthy discussion is part of the process. For example, you may set aside a time when you go to bed together, and simply have one partner retreat to their room or separate bed afterwards.
Consider your new morning routine.
Just as you’ve worked out a bedtime routine, work out a morning schedule. Do you reunite for coffee under the covers? Does one person get to sleep in while the early riser enjoys a quiet cup of coffee and the morning paper? Again, know your expectations and protect the closeness you share. You can bookend time together with time spent sleeping. Be on the same page so there are no hurt feelings.
If you and your partner decide that snoring or restless leg syndrome or opposite schedules make sleeping separately a good idea, remember you both need a good mattress. No fair sending someone off to the guest room and the mattress that used to belong to your grandmother. You can each find a brand-new, high quality mattress that suits your unique sleep needs.