Married and Sleeping Apart

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Throughout history, the marriage bed has been a symbol of the union itself, seen by many as the tangible expression of a couple’s passion and love. Sleeping together is a sign that a couple is physically and emotionally close.

Their shared bed means they want to be together. Sleeping apart, according to the traditional view, means there’s trouble in paradise. Common wisdom says that couples who don’t share a bed must have intimacy issues.

In the modern world of relationships, a growing number of couples are challenging the age-old traditional marriage bed and writing their own narrative for sleep. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, almost one in four married American couples say they sleep in separate beds.

Today, the once-unquestioned symbolism of the shared bed is being redefined, prompting us to explore married couples sleeping apart.

Why Do Couples Sleep Apart?
The number of married couples who sleep apart has increased over the past few decades, especially among younger couples. Couples cited a number of reasons for separate sleep arrangements.
Different sleep schedules. Couples may work different shifts, or one partner may be an early bird while the other is a night owl. These differences can make it difficult to get enough uninterrupted sleep.

Different sleep requirements. When spouses go to sleep and get up at different times, one of them may end up feeling resentful or fatigued about the sleep arrangement.

One partner sleeps hot. A spouse’s body temperature can cause sleep disruption, especially if they’re a hot sleeper and a big hugger and their partner is not.

Children. More than 80 percent of couples who say they sleep separately have children. Many times, parents sleep separately when one parent is sleeping with an infant or child.

Health problems. Medical conditions such as snoring, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome can make it difficult for both partners to get a good night’s sleep when they’re in the same room.

Desire for more space and independence. Some couples simply find that they sleep better when they have more space for themselves. This includes restless sleepers who move around in the bed and those who need to fall asleep to the sound of a television or music.

History of childhood trauma. People who’ve experienced childhood trauma may find it difficult to share a bed for a variety of reasons.

Differences between Generations
While the popularity of sleeping alone may seem like a seismic shift for the institution of marriage, it’s important to note that reasons for this decision vary significantly. A recent survey by the Naturepedic mattress company revealed the reasons couples sleep apart vary depending on their age group. A partner’s snoring was the determining factor for Baby Boomers to sleep apart. For Gen X and Millennial couples, demanding careers, parenting responsibilities and the need for uninterrupted rest have led many to appreciate the benefits of separate sleeping quarters. Sleeping apart is not a rejection of intimacy for most, but an acknowledgment of the importance of individual well-being within the union. However, a quarter of Gen X and Millennials report intimacy issues as a significant reason for not sleeping together.

The Pros and Cons of Sleeping Apart
There are advantages and disadvantages for married couples sleeping apart. Some of the potential benefits of sleeping apart include improved sleep quality, reduced conflict in the bedroom and increased intimacy. The last benefit may seem counterintuitive, but sleeping apart can lead to increased physical intimacy for some couples. People who sleep alone have also been found to fall asleep faster.

There are also some potential drawbacks to sleeping apart, such as increased feelings of loneliness and a loss of emotional connection. Sleeping apart can lead some couples to grow apart, putting the relationship at risk and increasing the risk of infidelity. Overall, the Naturepedic survey found that sleeping separately improved sleep quality and reduced stress, while sleeping together resulted in healthier sex lives and happier relationships. More couples who shared a bed reported that their marriage was “amazing” compared to those who slept apart.

If you and your spouse are thinking about sleeping apart, it doesn’t mean the end of your sex life. For couples who are worried about moving to separate beds, Jill Lankler, a New York clinical psychologist and life coach, says communication is key to maintaining physical intimacy. To stay close, partners who sleep apart should talk about their needs and intentionally make time for intimacy.

Every marriage is unique, and the two people in it should be the judge of what’s the best way to sleep. Whether it’s together or apart, the important thing is to find the balance between getting a good night’s sleep and keeping the relationship strong.

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