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Josey Vogels


Couples Sleeping Separately: Why Separate Beds Can Save Your Relationship

Posted: 01/18/2012 8:47 am

I love snuggling up to my guy. We fit perfectly. And drifting off while spooning together feels comfortable, sexy and cozy. Until he starts to snore. I'm a light sleeper -- increasingly so as I get older. So lately, when he's happily dozing, I've taken to giving him a kiss and a cuddle, then going to bed in the spare room, where I have a glorious sleep. I return in the morning for some snuggling before getting up to work. He often sleepily asks where I've been, which I find extremely cute. Sure, he slept so soundly he didn't notice me gone, but I like that he still misses me.

Snoring isn't the only difficulty. He likes the room warm, you like it cool. He likes lots of blankets, you like only a sheet. He gets up to pee seven times a night. You toss and turn. He hogs the pillows. You hog the sheets. He likes to go to bed early. You like to read until the wee hours. You like to wake up to the news on the radio. He can only wake with that annoying buzzer...

Still, conventional thinking deems it important to share a bed despite all your differences because there is intimacy in sleeping together. Not sleeping together either implies trouble in paradise, or will lead to it. Sleeping together in a double bed is a cultural indicator that you're in love.

Truth be told, I find it admirable -- even highly evolved -- that certain couples can admit that sleeping apart and having your own space can actually be good for a relationship.

It has to be much better for the relationship than being sleep-deprived, no?

Apparently, research backs me up. Sleeping together may actually be bad for your health.
Sleep specialist Dr. Neil Stanley, head of one of Britain's leading sleep labs, told the British Science Festival that while couples believed they slept better with their partner, evidence has proved that couples suffer 50 per cent more sleep disturbances if they share a bed.

The resulting lousy night's sleep can be linked to everything from depression to heart disease, strokes, traffic ad industrial accidents and even divorce.

This goes against conventional wisdom. As a culture, we believe that sleeping separately is a sign of trouble in paradise that leads to marital doom.

But Stanley, who sleeps separately from his wife, says that historically, couples sharing a bed wasn't even common until the industrial revolution, when people moved to overcrowded towns and cities and living space was limited.

In ancient Rome, for example, the marital bed was for one thing, and that wasn't sleeping.

I've long believed that sleeping apart -- even having separate bedrooms -- can actually be good for a relationship. Not only do you get a decent night's sleep, but you get your own space when you need it and you can relish in the excitement of sneaking into each other's room just like when you were just dating and your parents made you sleep in separate bedrooms when you stayed with them. Besides, nothing builds resentment more than watching your partner sleep blissfully beside you while you toss and turn beside them. How is that good for a relationship?

It seems more and more couples are coming around to my way of thinking. According to the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S., couples sleeping separately from 12 per cent in 2001 to 23 per cent in 2005.

And, according to the National Association of Home Builders, they've seen an increase in requests for "two-master bedroom" homes and predict that by 2015, 60 per cent of all custom upscale homes will be built with two "owner suites."

I'm sure lots of couples don't have a problem sleeping in the same bed. Some may actually even enjoy it. But if you don't, and it's affecting the quality of your sleep, you need to get over the fact that sleeping separately is unhealthy for the relationship because the exact opposite may be true.

It may well be that what your relationship really needs is a good night's sleep... in separate beds.

What your sleeping position reveals about your personality, according to sleep expert, Professor Chris Idzikowskia:

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  • What Your Sleeping Position Says About Your Personality

  • Foetus

    "Those who curl up in the foetus position are described as tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. They may be shy when they first meet somebody, but soon relax. The foetus is the most common sleeping position, with women more likely to adopt this position than men."

  • Starfish

    "Lying on your back with both arms up around the pillow. These sleepers make good friends because they are always ready to listen to others, and offer help when needed. They generally don't like to be the centre of attention."

  • Freefaller

    "Lying on your front with your hands around the pillow, and your head turned to one side. Often gregarious and brash people, but can be nervy and thin-skinned underneath, and don't like criticism, or extreme situations."

  • Soldier

    "Lying on your back with both arms pinned to your sides. People who sleep in this position are generally quiet and reserved. They don't like a fuss, but set themselves and others high standards."

  • Yearner

    "People who sleep on their side with both arms out in front are said to have an open nature, but can be suspicious, cynical. They are slow to make up their minds, but once they have taken a decision, they are unlikely ever to change it."

  • Log

    "Lying on your side with both arms down by your side. These sleepers are easy going, social people who like being part of the in-crowd, and who are trusting of strangers. However, they may be gullible."