‘I Want a Sleep Divorce’: Why Separate Bedrooms Could Save Your Relationship


“I want my own room.” Normally, you’d expect this statement to come from a privacy-seeking teen who’s tired of sharing a room with a younger sibling. But in this case, the one saying it is me: a 48-year-old, married mom of three.

Why would I want to forsake my spouse of almost 19 years for a room of my own? Let me count the reasons.

First, his snoring is so loud, it could rival excavation equipment. On some spring nights when the windows are open, I even worry that he’s keeping our neighbors awake. Second, there’s the blanket stealing. Third, I’m tired, literally, of being accidentally elbowed in the head.

For many years, I’ve felt guilty about wanting to grab my pillow and make a run for it—until recently when a friend said she’s counting the days until her daughter goes to college.

“I’m moving into her room and I can’t wait to get a decent night’s sleep,” she told me.

And that’s when I knew I wasn’t alone.

Why separate bedrooms makes sense

In popular historic TV shows like “The Crown” and “Downton Abbey,” upper-crust English couples retire to their own separate spaces. And this happens with modern-day couples, with reports saying that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have separate bedrooms, too.

Of course, these people live in castles (or the White House) and have plenty of space to bed down. But even for those who live in more cramped quarters, having separate bedrooms is surprisingly common. According to a recent National Sleep Foundation survey, as many as 25% of married couples sleep in separate beds, while 10% admit that they have full-on separate bedrooms.

This trend has given rise to the term “sleep divorce,” with one poll of 2,000 Americans from bedding company Slumber Cloud finding that nearly half of the respondents would prefer to sleep alone rather than with their significant other. And for good reason: About 1 in 5 said their partner was the biggest impediment to snagging enough shut-eye.

But does ditching your partner to sleep elsewhere suggest that your relationship is on the rocks, or could be soon?

Not necessarily, says Corrin Voeller, couples counselor and owner of Prosper Therapy in Minnesota, who notes she’s seeing more couples choosing to have separate bedrooms for reasons ranging from snoring to different work schedules, even varying preferences for bedroom temperature, light, and noise.

“Couples often feel pressured to be in the same bedroom because that is what our culture deems as healthy for a good relationship,” she says. “But when they let go of those expectations and embrace that this is what they’re doing in order to have a healthy relationship, separate bedrooms can be the perfect solution.”

‘Separate bedrooms is a win-win’

Florida resident Miriam Amselem says she and her husband of 32 years slept in separate bedrooms on and off throughout their marriage, but made the move permanent four years ago. She calls the arrangement a “win-win.”

“We both love it,” she says. “We have different sleeping habits. He likes to watch TV or is on his iPad very late into the night, like 2 a.m., and I need my sleep because I wake up early in the morning. He is also a mild insomniac, tossing and turning through the night so I would usually just leave the room and sleep in a separate bedroom.”

So four years ago, “we decided to just sleep in separate rooms, since it was a nightly habit of one of us leaving the room anyway,” Amselem continues. “The way we see it is that sleep is extremely important for health reason and also for having a good relationship. When neither one of us slept well, there was impatience and frustration. But now, since we are both sleeping, those issues are pretty much gone.”

Manhattan-based real estate agent Martin Eiden of the Sports and Entertainment Division at Compass says he’s also sensing a trend as clients are looking for homes with two master bedrooms, aka dual master suites.

“More and more, couples are sleeping in separate rooms in order to get a decent rest,” he notes.

But what about intimacy?

A way to maintain intimacy while sleeping in  separate bedrooms is to spend time together in one bedroom before one or both partners go to sleep, Voeller suggests.

Pablo Solomon and his wife of 44 years, Beverly, of Austin, TX, do just that—and it works for them.

“When you are young, sleeping together is synonymous with having sex,” Solomon says. “And frankly when you are younger, sex trumps sleep. But as you age, sex is still fun but actually works better when well-planned and well-timed. And getting a good night’s sleep is more important. We also are confident enough in our relationship to be ourselves.”

While I haven’t decided when, if, or how I’ll make the move, at least I know there’s nothing wrong with choosing shut-eye over your significant other.

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Source: Housing Trends Feed