By Alex Stein
Snorer. Cover-hog. Light sleeper. Night owl. Insomniac. If any of these terms describe you or your partner, experts say sleeping in separate rooms could be beneficial for your relationship in the long run. Although it may sound severe at first, separate bedrooms is a sleep trend that’s becoming increasingly popular with many couples. In fact, a sleep study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 1 in 4 couples sleep in separate rooms, and this number is continuing to grow.
We asked couples and sex therapist and author of, “Sex Without Stress,” Jessa Zimmerman, for the #truth about sleeping separately.
Is it healthy (or not) to sleep apart?
“Couples shouldn’t feel pressured to conform to the expectation of sleeping together, if they have different sleep schedules or preferences that don’t coincide with their mate,” Zimmerman says. “In that case, separate bedrooms can be a huge boost to their well-being and help avoid tension in their relationship.” And every couple knows that tension builds when you’re tired.
One recent study of couples conducted by researchers at Ohio State University discovered that when both partners got fewer than seven hours of sleep, they acted with more hostility toward one another and showed signs of increased inflammation in blood tests. So sleeping apart can mean less arguing, more restful sleep, and better health. As long as both parties are on board, what’s not to love?
Does sleeping apart affect intimacy?
Perhaps the biggest myth about sleeping apart is that a couple’s romantic relationship will suffer. Here’s the reality: If you aren’t getting enough sleep, whether you’re in the same bed or not, stress hormones can throw your libido out of whack. Choosing the best sleep situation can also improve intimacy (actually, couples sleeping separately report less tension with their partner and better intimacy). Sleeping apart just might be the aphrodisiac you never tried.
“Make sure you’re still spending time together in the evenings,” Zimmerman suggests. “Snuggle up in one bed before you fall asleep, and keep your bedrooms clean and romantic.”
Can sleeping apart drive you apart?
Just because sleeping apart works for some couples, doesn’t mean it’s the answer for everyone. If one person ends up feeling abandoned or if the root of the issue goes deeper than sleep related frustrations, it’s time for a talk. The key is to be open and honest.
”If you’re sleeping apart so that you can sleep better, that’s a good step. But if you’re using that as an excuse to avoid sexual intimacy, that’s a reason for concern,” Zimmerman explains. “Talk about what’s really going on and what needs to change so that you could enjoy your sex life again.”
See a medical specialist to work through the problem and find a solution. We’ll be rooting for you — from a separate bedroom.