One of the joys of moving in together is sleeping in the same bed every night – or is it? If you share a bed, then approximately fifty per cent of your sleep disturbance is caused by your partner, according to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. ‘If they are disturbing your sleep because of snoring or fidgeting, you may want to consider separate beds or even separate a bedroom,’ he says.
‘Not sleeping together, if it works for you both, is a mature pragmatic solution to a problem and has no bearing on the strength, or otherwise, of your relationship.’
Would you benefit from separate beds?
In fact, a third of married couples admit to sleeping better alone, and it’s not just snoring that’s the problem. An estimated 13 million Brits wake regularly at night with muscle cramps, often several times a week. In many cases, they disturb their partner by thrashing around in bed, groaning and rubbing the offending muscle. And for those of a more mature age, there are the added issues of night sweats for women with menopausal symptoms, and nocturnal bathroom visits for men with prostate problems. Older adults with fluid retention, high blood pressure or other age-related health conditions may also need to get up at night to visit the loo, disturbing both their own sleep and that of their partner.
Your need for sleep is thought to be genetically determined. If you require eight to nine hours of good quality sleep to function properly the next day, and your partner only needs five or six, that can cause problems, too, especially if you prefer different sleep habits and routines. One of you may be a night owl, thriving on staying up late to read, write or watch TV, while the other prefers going to bed early, or waking at dawn to welcome the day with a bedside yoga routine. If that’s the case, does it really make sense to sleep in the same bed or even in the same room? If you don’t sleep well because of your partner, the danger is that you will start to resent each other. When you are tired, it’s natural to become irritable and you are more likely to argue over small things than to resolve differences in a calm manner.
One of more of these factors can mean it makes sense to consider sleeping in separate beds or even in separate bedrooms. Not sleeping together, if it works for you both, does not reflect the quality of your relationship. You can still find time to be close and intimate, to cuddle and share pillow talk if you only move to your separate bed or bedroom at the point of turning out the light to sleep. In fact, recent surveys suggest that as many as one in five British couples choose to sleep in separate beds, and, if one or other of you works long hours, shifts, or experiences sleep disturbance, it could actually make your relationship stronger.