When I think of couples sleeping apart from each other, I immediately think of the old shows I used to watch on Nick at Nite. For example, in I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo slept in the same room, just different beds and I always wondered why.

I just always assumed that couples are supposed to sleep in the same bed. If they don't, does it mean their relationship is on the rocks? Is cuddling under the covers together the only way to keep a healthy marriage? Now that I am married, I know those assumptions couldn't be more wrong and some studies prove sleeping in different rooms can be beneficial for relationships. This would explain the growing trend of people sleeping apart from their spouses.

Modern Sleep Habits

The National Sleep Foundation has studied sleep habits and found that one in ten people rarely if ever say they get a good night's sleep. Most of the folks (70%) polled also said that they sleep with their significant other. On the other hand, in a more recent study by The International Housewares Association for The New York Times, one in five couples sleep in separate bedrooms almost every night.

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Why Couples Sleep Apart

Several factors may go into deciding sleep situations for couples. I know when our son, Rollins, was born we were just always at his mercy as to how much sleep we got. Until he got through having nightmares (which still pop up here and there) he either crawled in bed with us, or one of us laid with him in his bed when he needed us. That meant the other got the big bed to themselves. I am not gonna lie, I never minded the nights when Michael would post up in Rollins' bunk bed with him. It meant I got to spread out and not have to deal with any snoring!

Snoring, conflicting wake schedules, and disagreements over mattress firmness were reported as the most common reasons for folks sleeping apart. Some people like to sleep with something playing on the TV while others may need total silence. I know I love to sleep with a fan on and Michael bundles up in his hoodies and sweatshirts so as not to freeze.

Does Sleeping Apart Harm a Marriage?

One would think that sleeping in different rooms would harm the intimacy of a marriage, but those who practice this successfully would disagree. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to get good sleep at night. It makes you feel better and have a better disposition toward dealing with your spouse overall. Avoiding having to deal with their annoying sleep habits like snoring or tossing and turning means you can start your day refreshed.

Wendy M. Troxel PhD is a certified sleep behavioral specialist who did this incredible Ted Talk about sleep habits in couples and families. Here is something very interesting she shares

"Here’s what the science actually tells us about the costs and benefits of sleeping together or apart. When sleep is measured objectively, people actually sleep worse with a partner. In fact, if you sleep with someone who snores, you can blame them for up to 50 percent of your sleep disruptions.

But when you ask those disrupted sleepers “Do you prefer to sleep with your partner or do you prefer to sleep alone?”, most say that they prefer to sleep with their partner. This suggests that our social brain is prioritizing our need for closeness and security at night — even when it comes at a cost to our sleep."

Obviously, if physical touch is an important love language in the relationship, there are other ways to incorporate that into the day. Compromise is always the best solution when it comes to deciding where and how to sleep. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how you and your partner enjoy a good night's rest. Are you and your spouse sleep-compatible or do you sleep in different rooms?


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