Anymore, it is not unusual to find that many married couples often sleep in separate beds. The National Sleep Foundation reported in a 2005 survey that nearly one in four American couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds.
The reasons include snoring, disruptive sleep, temperature preferences, different sleep schedules or sleep habits. Snoring, farting, moaning and stealing the bedcovers can keep anyone up at night. You probably do it, too. I denied it for years because it didn’t bother me because I was asleep. ;-) With sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea all too common and on the rise, it is understandable how couples might opt for separate bedrooms.
Whatever the case may be, the bigger issue is that sleep disturbances due to differences like this can create big relationship problems. Resentment can build. However, couples who genuinely love each other can work through those differences. Open and honest communication is the key. It’s important to avoid being influenced by negative social stigma of separate beds.
Most people believe that for many people sleeping with a partner is very comforting and soothing. Although touch makes us feel good, spooning can increase body heat and make it difficult to stay asleep. But you have to be awake to feel that. There haven’t been many scientific studies about the impact of couples sleeping together. However, experts believe oxytocin, the “love hormone,” is released through touching, including cuddling. According to neurologist Dr. Rachel Salas, assistant medical director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, increased oxytocin helps the body relax, encourages healing and reduces blood pressure.
Light sleepers may be disrupted if their partner shifts positions throughout the night. For those who need to escape from a thrashing partner or simply need their physical space but still want the security of a partner close by, a larger bed may enable them to sleep together and get a good night’s sleep. If you’re living with a partner who snores, has restless leg syndrome or talks in their sleep, sleeping separately may be the only way to get a good night’s sleep.
Why should a person’s rest be impeded by another person’s own quirks and habits? Truth is, it shouldn’t. Some couples call it “protecting each other’s solitude.” There is no shame in sleeping in separate beds if there are issues that keep one partner or the other from getting a good night’s sleep. Many believe that when a married couple decides to sleep in separate beds, the marriage is in trouble.
There, is of course, the issue of sex. Sex is not only an obvious part of marriage but also an important part of maintaining a healthy marriage. It’s important to develop a morning and nighttime routine so that couples can still work those closeness hours in without sacrificing quality sleep or sexual intimacy. Be sure to stay touchy-feely with each other. Plan your romps between the sheets together. Touch enhances the sense of intimacy and it also has a measurable biological effect. It’s not only important for holding onto the romance – touch is vital to emotional and physical health. Look for other ways to connect outside the bedroom, such as having at least one date night each week, engaging in a hobby or fun activity together. Sleeping in separate beds often has the opposite effect and spices things up, creating a more date-like atmosphere. Your bed, or mine?
As with most things in life, there is one caveat. Sleeping separately is only beneficial if it’s really about your sleep quality – not something more. “If you’re splitting up at night because you’re fighting, or because you’re having sex issues, then it’s going to do more harm than good,” says Susan Heitler, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Denver, Colorado, author of “The Power of Two: Secrets of a Strong and Loving Marriage” and founder of the marriage skills website PowerofTwoMarriage.com.
You might try to fall asleep together in the same bed with the understanding that if one partner disrupts the other’s sleep, that person will slip off to a different room during the night. Be sure your bedroom is sleep friendly. No TV or other distractions. Creating a comfortable bedroom environment is also important. Darkness, a moderate room temperature, and cleanliness all can affect sleep quality.
It’s important to not allow sleeping apart to rob your marriage of its special connection. In other words, sleeping apart can be great if you’re doing it for the right reasons.
BONUS Article: Separate Beds Are Liberating
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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