Two pairs of feet sticking out of a white blanket | Featured image for How many sleepless nights until it's time for a change?

Sleeping with your partner becomes a little less romantic when you bring into the equation things like snoring, tossing and turning, blanket hogging, an elbow to the face, late night bathroom trips or reading with the light on. You and your partner may share the same bed, however that might be all you share when it comes to your sleeping habits and patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 38% of people said their relationship is directly impacted by their partner’s sleep disorders/behaviours.

Sleeping in the same bed and a healthy loving relationship are not mutually exclusive. One way to improve your sleep could be creating separate sleeping spaces or, as some call it, a “sleep divorce”. A sleep divorce doesn’t have to mean the end of a happy relationship. It could mean the beginning of a happier one, as feelings of resentment and frustration can often build when you are regularly left lying awake, due to partner disturbances. Add on to that sleep deprivation, conflict can often arise. Research from Berkeley shows people are less likely to see their partner’s perspective or read their emotions when they’re sleep deprived. Jennifer Adams, author of “Sleeping Apart Not Falling Apart”, says that “when both parties are getting a restorative night’s sleep it allows them to feel emotionally, mentally and physically healthier without one being resentful of their partner for keeping them awake, nor the other feeling guilty for disturbing his or her mate”. Our overall quality of life can be seriously affected when not getting quality sleep, as when we sleep many important functions take place to help the body recover and repair physically. Sleeping separately could have significant mental and physical improvements.

A “sleep divorce” is more common than you may think. A survey by Better Sleep Council found that one in four couples sleep separately for the purpose of a better night’s sleep. There are a few options you could consider when choosing to sleep apart: separate beds in the same room, split mattresses or a separate room all together. It may depend on the specific issues that are causing the sleep disturbance. For example, if the problem is tossing and turning or temperature it could be as easy as buying a split mattress and separate blankets. Two mattresses in the same room could be a solution for couples who get disturbed by their partner’s movements. Whereas different sleep schedules, snoring, or sleep apnea could be cause for separate rooms.

A “sleep divorce” doesn’t need to be permanent. You might like to trial it and see how you go. The most important thing to remember is open communication and making a decision that is right for you both and what you both feel comfortable with. Discuss the facts on why you want to sleep separately with no blame attached to either party. Happy sleeping!

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