For many, insufficient sleep is a nightly challenge. And the global pandemic has only made matters worse. Several studies have shown that sleep problems today are severe and affect approximately 40% of the population.
Although we all love sleeping, sleep disorders are not uncommon. Ranging from simple snoring, tossing, and sleep talking to more severe issues like sleep apnea and teeth grinding, there’s a possibility that either you or your partner suffer from one. When you sleep next to someone with a disorder like this, it can really disrupt your sleep quality. If you’re the one with the issue, you don’t want your sleep disorders to affect your partner’s sleep.
Even if you don’t suffer from any sleeping disorders, you and your partner could have different sleeping habits and routines. One partner might enjoy watching tv in bed until late, have different room temperature preferences, wake up a lot earlier, and so on, all of which can affect the other’s sleep. When you are not in complete sync with your partner in this way, it could lead to poor sleep, as well as affect key aspects of your relationship.
If you’re a light sleeper, even the slightest movement or noise from your partner could continuously wake you up at night. Deep sleep is an essential aspect of full-body recovery. Waking up repeatedly prevents you from entering a deeper stage of the sleep cycle.
Sleep is important for our overall well-being. Sleep specialists and senior behavioral experts claim that even an hour of sleep loss can have a significant negative impact on both our cognitive and physical health. The effects of which could possibly stay with us long after we’ve caught up on those missed hours. Sleep deprivation can even cause high blood pressure and heart disease, among other dangerous issues.
So, what should you do when you can’t form a traditional sleep alliance with your partner? Well, if you consulted a sleep specialist or a senior behavioral scientist, you might be surprised to hear them suggest that you try to sleep separately.
Sleep divorces are helping couples sleep better
Sleep separation or sleep divorce might sound a little dramatic! But don’t worry, it has nothing to do with you getting divorced. It’s simply an agreement with your partner to sleep separately. Essentially, you and your partner do not sleep in the same bed or even in the same room.
Many couples find it odd to even sleep with separate blankets. So the idea of separate beds or separate rooms might seem extreme. However, this has nothing to do with your relationship. It’s all about getting a good night’s sleep. Being constantly tired and resentful of your partner is hardly conducive to a good relationship. Sleeping separately could actually keep your relationship functioning optimally for both of you.
Sleeping in a separate bed has nothing to do with not wanting physical affection or feeling disconnected. It has everything to do with better sleep and co-living with a sleep disorder. It ensures that you and your bed partner get good rest every night and eliminates the higher risk of health complications.
How does sleep divorce work?
When a couple agrees to a sleep divorce, opting to sleep in separate beds or separate rooms, it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. Far from it! In fact, agreeing to sleep apart for a night or two to recharge might just do the trick!
If a few nights doesn’t sound like enough, try to come to a compromise. For example, you can agree on sleeping apart during the week and together on the weekends. Of course, any radical measure has pros and cons, and some experts advise against a sleep divorce unless it’s the last resort to save your sanity.
For many couples, that moment before falling asleep is when they’re most connected on an intimate level, both physically and emotionally. So, there’s a chance that this connection could be disrupted if you decide to sleep apart.
It might be worthwhile evaluating if there’s anything else that you can change before taking the sleep divorce route. But no matter how frustrating the situation may seem, there’s always a solution.
We’ve done the research for you and created an easy step-by-step guide for you to follow.
One way or another, you are on the way to more restful nights and a healthier relationship.
Signs of sleep deprivation
Step one is to assess if you are struggling with sleep deprivation. These signs might indicate that you or your partner need more quality sleep at night. Answer the questions below with a yes or no.
- I experience excessive daytime sleepiness.
- I’m unable to focus during the day.
- Carbs and sugar cravings rule my day.
- I need caffeine or other substances to stay awake.
- I take too much (30mins or more) or too little (a minute or two) time to fall asleep.
- While awake, I feel stressed and emotional.
- I have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
- My libido is almost non-existent or much lower than it used to be.
- I am dehydrated: dry skin, sticky mouth, dark urine, lightheaded, bad breath, weight gain/loss, muscle cramps, dry eyes, lack of tears/sweat.
- I sleep too much (over 8 to 9 hours). Yes, that’s a thing as well!
If you find yourself saying YES or nodding to some of these, chances are your current sleeping conditions aren’t optimal. But, whether it’s you, your partner, or your environment, the future of your sleep will look brighter soon. Just keep reading.
Quite frankly, even those of you who don’t feel there’s a problem right now might benefit from some of the steps and hacks we’re about to share. After all, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to sleep.
The talk about separate beds
Your next step on the road to becoming a well-rested person is to talk. Having an open and honest conversation with your partner is crucial. Again, we cannot stress this enough.
When your college roommate or friend staying overnight would snore, you’d put in ear plugs and survive the night. However, when you are in a long-term relationship and sleep in the same bed every night, it’s a completely different ball game.
Being a better communicator will solve your problems and also prevent them from surfacing in the first place.
Talk to your significant other about the fact that you need to get quality sleep at night in order to be a happy and healthy person, and you’re unable to get that right now. Communicate in a way that makes sense in your relationship. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you exactly what and how to say things! The only suggestion we can make is that you do it without blaming the other partner.
Finding the optimal solution
Amazing! We assume you’ve now talked things through and agreed to find solutions, which is step three. Find out the reason for your sleep disruption. If the main issue is noise, be it a snoring partner, a humming CPAP machine, or the fact that you live on a busy street, you might be able to mask it with a good white noise machine or a pair of high-quality earplugs.
Side note: People snoring is not only annoying and uncomfortable but is also linked to several health issues. We strongly recommend seeking professional help from a sleep specialist. We love the advice of our favorite sleep doctor, Dr. Michael Breus. Start by reading his article “How to Stop Snoring.” In it, Dr. Breus goes through the causes of snoring and provides tips on how to holistically stop snoring. And if you’re more of a video kind of person, watch his YouTube video “The Snoring Survival Guide.”
The market for white noise machines is, well, quite noisy! You can find them in different shapes, forms, colors, functionalities, and price ranges. But frankly, many of them are unnecessarily complicated and techy. All you need is a machine with an on and off button that uses a fan to create that soothing white noise. To avoid undesirable EMF exposure, we recommend models that don’t have Bluetooth or WIFI connectivity options. At the very least, make sure there are no blue light/LED lights projecting into the bedroom as these could compromise your sleep.
When you have discovered your cause and found a solution, you could also work on the transition.
For instance, you could develop pre-bedtime rituals or sleep routines together. When you’re just entering a sleep divorce, it could feel like you’ll miss out on that intimate moment or physical touch. To counter that, you could set aside a half an hour for quality time together. This planned half-hour could also have significant upsides and bring you closer together.
Your mattress is key for good sleep
Apart from noise, not getting enough room to stretch out in bed can also be an issue. Sure, hugging, snuggling, and spooning sounds very cozy, but only up to a point. Sometimes, all you want to do is stretch out freely, kitten style. You need your sacred space for rest. If this is your situation, we suggest you take step number four and invest in a new mattress (and maybe some additional pillows so you’re always in the right sleeping position and keep your airway open).
Although this might seem like a massive investment at first, think about it. On average, you spend one-third of your life sleeping. When you’re well-rested, you’re also more productive. You deliver better results at work and are hopefully rewarded with a bigger paycheck or a bonus. A mattress will also stay with you for at least eight years. So, you can see how attractive the ROI on this is.
Like anything else, shopping for a mattress can be an adventure. Whenever possible, we always strive to go the green route—but without breaking the bank! Our top pick is the Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress. Responsive, ultra-breathable natural latex has a weightless feel that offers unsurpassed pressure-point relief as it keeps you cooler through the night. If you’d like to know more reasons why we go green on mattresses, check out our article on air quality.
Sleep divorce with kids and pets
Ok, this is a tricky one and possibly quite a big step for some families. So, we’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s something worth trying!
We all love our children and pets. Having them join you in bed is fine as long as it doesn’t happen regularly and you’re all able to fall back asleep quickly.
However, this is often not the case. Co-sleeping quickly becomes a habit, and before you know it, all of your nights are being disturbed by little flailing limbs or a dog who can’t stop dreaming about chasing squirrels.
Of course, there are occasions, such as a new baby in the family, when you might opt for a different sleeping arrangement. But as soon as the kids are old enough, it is healthier—and probably more sustainable for everyone—to sleep in different beds.
And as for pets, especially dogs, they thrive with routine and consistent “guidelines.” Allowing them on your bed one day and not the next can create confusion in their brains. Cutting your four-legged friend out of your bedroom cold turkey could be traumatizing for them. The safest way is to consult an animal trainer or a therapist. They can do wonders and make the process easier for everyone.
Look at the little things
Sleep plays a key role in your health. It is worth looking at the little things that you can do, as these combine to make a big difference to the quality of sleep you get.
Here are a few suggestions you can implement into your everyday life:
- Be consistent with the time you go to sleep and wake up
- Get outside during the day
- Reduce caffeine and sugar intake before bed
- Relax before bed, perhaps with a bath, yoga, or reading
Sleeping separately will improve your relationship
Throughout this process, remember to communicate with your partner. Communication is key to a healthy relationship. If anything about your sleeping arrangement isn’t working, don’t delay talking about it. The sooner you talk about it, the easier it will be to solve it.
If you have come to the conclusion that a temporary sleep divorce is what needs to happen, trust that it’s for a better, more rested future and does not have to be forever. Make sure your partner understands that the solution is for the benefit of your relationship and is not a sign of abandonment or a completely different underlying problem. Soon, sharing a bed will be a dream come true.
Could a sleep divorce be exactly what you need to improve your sleep?