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Should You and Your Spouse Sleep Apart?

A woman sleeping alone in bed.

Many people take it for granted that if you live with your significant other, you also share a bed. But is that best for everyone?

According to one survey of 2,000 people, almost half of bed-sharers would prefer to sleep alone at least part of the time. It’s easy to understand why: another person’s movements and noises can disrupt all but the soundest sleepers.

But is sleeping separately a good choice—or are there other ways to address the problem? Let’s take a look.

Why Sleep in Separate Beds?

First, let’s examine the case for sleeping separately. The internet abounds with articles about spouses who decided to sleep apart. However, most of them are purely anecdotal, written by people who’ve found it more comfortable not sharing a bed with their partner. Of course, if sleeping separately works best for you, by all means, do it. But is there any research to back up the benefits of having your own bed?

Because sleeping habits vary drastically, it’s difficult to find research that supports sleeping separately across the board. But there’s an abundance of research on the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeping well helps you in many ways and can even improve your relationship. Lack of sleep makes you moodier and more negative, which certainly isn’t conducive to a healthy relationship.

Sleeping apart can help you feel better rested if your partner’s snoring or bed-hogging tend to keep you up at night. It also means you can both get up or go to bed at different times without waking each other (and feeling guilty about it). And when you don’t sleep in the same room, you don’t have to compromise on mattress firmness, room temperature, or light levels.

The Benefits of Sharing a Bed

If sleeping together has ever disrupted your ability to sleep well, you might already be thinking about the appeal of separating at night. But are there any reasons you should stay in the same bed?

Actually, yes, some research shows that people who sleep with a partner are healthier. It’s even been suggested that sleeping with someone you love might lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. However, other studies have shown that sharing a bed leads to poorer health due to disrupted sleep.

It seems impossible for the research to come to a consensus about something so subjective—at least so far. However, sharing a bed indeed means spending more time together, and it also provides you with the benefits of affectionate touch.

So, there are reasons to try to share a bed—they just might not be compelling enough to lose sleep over.

Tips for Staying in Bed Together

Whether you sleep in the same bed is ultimately up to you and your partner. Every relationship is different, as is what’s best for each relationship.

Still, if you want to have the best of both worlds, try one of these methods to help you share a bed without losing sleep.

Change Your Mattress

A different mattress that reduces motion transfer can help you both sleep more peacefully. You won’t feel your partner tossing, turning, or getting out of bed as much with a mattress that absorbs the motion. Try a memory foam mattress if movement is the issue. A bigger mattress can also help if you don’t have enough space at night.

Address Snoring

Snoring can definitely keep your spouse awake. While some types of snoring can’t be prevented, it’s worth it to give a few anti-snore options a try. A doctor can help you decide how best to manage snoring issues.

Use Separate Blankets

Is your partner a blanket-stealer? If so, you can set up your bed with separate blankets for each of you, so you won’t wake up being tugged out of your covers at night. This can also help you both maintain the temperature you find most comfortable.

If you think sleeping separately might be right for you, we encourage you to try it out for a few nights. There’s nothing that says you can’t go back to sleeping together if you realize you prefer it. And there’s also nothing that says you can’t mix things up a bit. Maybe a few nights each week sleeping separately would be a good balance for you.

Given all the benefits of getting a good night’s rest, it’s worthwhile to do anything you can to improve your sleep quality—even if that includes being away from your partner at night. If you decide you want to keep sleeping in the same bed, these tips should help you do so comfortably.

Want to know what to do if your spouse (or anything else) wakes you up in the middle of the night? Here’s how you can get back to sleep.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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