Can A ‘Sleep Divorce’ Help Couples At Night?


January 9, 2024

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Moving in with your partner can be exciting; however, if your partner’s sleep habits are vastly different, it may lead to sleep deprivation and bitterness in the relationship.

In such cases, a ‘sleep divorce’ can improve your sleep quality and overall health while promoting a better understanding. A sleep divorce is when partners mutually agree to sleep separately in separate beds or rooms to get better sleep. 

Even though there’s a lot of stigma surrounding this concept, choosing to sleep in a separate bed from your spouse or significant other doesn’t symbolise a broken relationship or marriage. It is simply a mutually beneficial sleeping arrangement to help both of you catch a good night’s sleep. 

Moreover, sleep specialists have proven that there’s an important connection between a couple’s sleep and relationship quality. In this article, we will walk you through the details of the ‘sleep divorce’ and how you can benefit from it.

Signs You Need To Consider A Sleep Divorce

One partner may be a night owl, whereas the other, an early bird, wakes up quite early to start their day. Or you may find yourself unable to fall asleep due to your partner’s snoring. And in both cases, it may be time to discuss ‘sleep divorce’.

As such, here are some common problems that can benefit from a sleep separation:

  • One of you has snoring or other breathing issues, such as sleep apnea
  • There’s a history of parasomnia, which causes abnormal behaviour during sleep, such as sleep talking, sleepwalking, night terrors, etc.
  • A REM sleep disorder where a person can unknowingly hurt another while asleep
  • You’re a light sleeper and get repeatedly awakened by them
  • Restlessness and constant tossing due to insomnia
  • You have clashing bedtime habits or sleep schedules
  • One of you works night shifts and comes home late

Many couples share a bed despite such sleeping quirks or disorders; however, you need not ‘just deal with it’ if it adversely affects your sleep quality or overall well-being.

How Can A Sleep Divorce Help?

1. Better Sleep

Most people agree that their partner is the cause of their poor sleep–be it for fights, snoring, hogging blankets or simply different sleep schedules. And chronic sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of diseases like high blood pressure, depression, heart failure, and compromised immunity.

But couples can ensure that they get enough deep sleep without being disturbed by sleeping in separate rooms. And if you sleep separately, you’re guaranteed to wake up feeling rejuvenated, which can prevent arguments and bitterness and promote a healthy relationship.

2. More Personal Space

Are you compromising your own space for the relationship? Prolonged negligence of your personal needs or space can lead to depression, insomnia and other psychosomatic and sleep disorders. Most people feel most comfortable in their personal space, especially at the end of the day, when they need time to decompress and reevaluate. 

It is very important for couples to spend time with their own interests and friend groups and explore things by themselves to promote a healthy sense of self and fulfilment. And having separate rooms can help them cultivate their different habits and avoid enmeshment leading to unhealthy complacency and toxicity.

3. Better Communication, Fewer Conflicts

Besides providing quality sleep, a ‘sleep divorce’ can improve communication and prevent conflicts. Insufficient sleep can lead to negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and irritability, which can adversely affect your relationship. Moreover, couples who sleep in the same bed or room tend to fight regularly when they lose out on shut-eye because of the other.

Since people have different sleep habits when they live alone, their mismatched habits and sleep schedule can lead to fights and arguments when they sleep in the same room. A study in 2016 found that sleep issues and relationship problems often happen simultaneously. So, sleeping separately can prevent emotional outbursts and help you be a better partner.

4. A Flexible Routine To Avoid Clashing Bedtime Habits

If you sleep in separate beds or have set up separate bedrooms for each other, there’s a better opportunity for both of you to have different bedtime routines. One can stay up for hours reading their favourite book without worrying about disturbing their partner’s good night’s rest. So, sleep separation can accommodate different sleep patterns while eliminating major sleep problems.

Moreover, sleeping separately allows couples to be independent and personalise their daily routines.

5. Better Sex Life

Sleeping in separate beds doesn’t mean there’s no physical intimacy in a relationship. But could a sleep divorce improve your marriage and sex life? Sleep specialists believe that sleep divorces help couples to engage in physical affection with more intention and care. 

If you have a daily, nightly ritual of cuddling before you fall asleep, consider shifting it to one of your separate beds before parting for the night. Moreover, honestly communicating to schedule sex ensures that the other partner doesn’t feel like they’re sacrificing an intimate moment by sleeping apart. It is possible to have a proactive intimate relationship and satisfy your own needs while getting enough sleep.

How To Talk To Your Partner Or Spouse About Sleeping In Separate Beds

Initiating a conversation with your partner regarding the prospects of a sleep divorce can be tricky. If gone about it in the wrong way, it can offend your partner; but you should remember that good sleep is required for a healthy relationship. So, if you’re having difficulty falling asleep due to your partner’s disturbing sleeping habits, it’s time to talk.

Sleeping in different beds doesn’t mean your relationship is failing–thus, it is important to reassure your partner that they are loved before beginning the conversation. Be gentle and compassionate, and explain in detail what a sleep separation actually entails. If possible, show them realistic connections between the lack of good rest and your relationship constraints.

To add more credibility to your point, consider tracking your sleep patterns in a fitness app and journaling every night. Show your partner this journal and let them know that you’ve put serious thought into the situation.

Moreover, you can offer some alternatives to sharing a bed that will cater to your needs for physical touch and quality time. Talk about how you want to go about the sleeping arrangements and if you want different rooms, beds, or separate blankets. Remember to give your partner the time to process the situation and adapt to the lifestyle changes. 

If you want to slowly get used to sleeping apart, consider sleeping separately on work days and sharing a bed on weekends. Also, try assigning a specific time when you can share a nightly routine to connect with the other physically. 

How To Initiate Sleep Divorce When With Kids Or Pets

Deciding to sleep separately from your children or pets can be tricky, and when faced with this situation, most people simply compromise. Having kids or pets join you in bed for a single night can be fun, but if it happens regularly, you can miss out on good rest. But it is up to you if you’re willing to try to sleep separately from your loved ones.

However, doctors and sleep specialists recommend setting some basic boundaries when it comes to sleep, especially if you’re working in the morning. If you try to balance family time and good sleep too fervently, you can likely incur major health issues.

Moreover, having a codependent sleep arrangement with a newborn baby is fine, but you should encourage them to sleep separately when they grow old enough. Sleeping in different rooms can be sustainable for every family member since each person can get sufficient sleep and quality time.

Pets like cats and dogs are creatures of habit, routine and strict guidelines. However, it may be too traumatising for them if you suddenly remove them from the bedroom without prior preparation. If your pet has a co-dependent sleep habit, consider consulting an animal therapist or trainer who will help them get used to sleeping in their own allotted space.

Final Thoughts

A ‘sleep divorce’ is a healthy sleeping arrangement with ample health benefits and can help create a thriving partnership. 

If you’re facing difficult sleep issues that are negatively affecting your mental and physical health, it is essential to communicate with your partner without any delay. Communication is key in most cases of sleep separation, so remember to check in with your partner and make suitable changes to include quality time.

Deciding to initiate a sleep divorce can be a big step in creating mutual awareness and understanding in a relationship. Let your partner know when a temporary sleep separation is required; however, ensure they understand that you’re not abandoning them or struggling with other issues.

On that note, we will wrap up for today. Until next time, goodbye!