Is It Time For A Sleep Divorce?

5 Min Read | By Lottie Salako

Last Modified 8 February 2023   First Added 4 February 2022

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

What is a sleep divorce?

A “sleep divorce” is the trending term for when a couple decides they need to lead separate sleeping lives, there isn’t actually anything legal happening here. There can be a myriad of reasons why you and your partner might want to sleep separately and although it is the social norm now, this convention of spouses sharing the bed is relatively new.

For a lot of human history, sleeping in groups was seen as the norm. Even when beds became common, it wasn’t unusual to have a large bed where the whole family would sleep. Even royals would have their servants sleep in their bed to be close by! However, modern comforts mean that this isn’t necessary, so now we can enjoy sleeping in peace.

How can a sleep divorce help your relationship?

Despite being the norm of most people, a study found that 15% of UK adults said if space and cost were no issue, they would like to sleep separately from their partners. For some couples, sleeping together can do more harm than good because of lack of sleep.

One of the biggest reasons for sleeping separately was snoring. Severe sleep deprivation can cause major health issues such as memory issues, decreased cognitive function, and increased risk of heart problems, as well as irritability, anger, and emotional instability. If you’re not getting good quality sleep at night, it could be affecting every aspect of your life.

Signs sleeping separately is right for you

So is it time for a sleep divorce? Here are a few signs that sleeping separately might improve your relationship:


Can’t get comfortable at night? Constantly tossing and turning? Some people just can’t get used to sharing their space with someone else, especially if you run at different temperatures or prefer a different kind of bed.

If you or your partner moves around a lot or gets up in the night, you may suffer from restless leg syndrome. This causes an overwhelming need to move your legs (and sometimes arms) around, especially at night. There is no official cause or cure for restless leg syndrome, but you can speak to your GP about getting help to manage it.


A major sign of sleep deprivation is irritability, so if you find yourself snappier than usual, you may be lacking in good quality shut-eye. This can also be worse if it’s your partner keeping you up at night, their well-rested demeanour can feel so much more personal!

tired boy on phone

Dreading bedtime

If everything about your relationship seems fine, except bedtime fills you with dread or anxiety, then it could be time to ask for a sleep divorce. We can feel pressured to conform to and enjoy societal norms around relationships, so when it doesn’t work for you, it can be upsetting.

How to do a sleep divorce

When it comes to arranging your sleep divorce, there are no rules that you have to follow, so it’s up to you what works best. Here are a few tips on how to achieve an amicable sleep divorce:

Separate bedding

There are many places like Scandinavia, Germany, and Austria where separate bedding is commonplace and the preferred way of sharing the bed. Having a separate duvet can minimise issues like hogging the covers and you choose what temperature you want to be without disrupting your partner.

Learn more about the benefits of separate bedding.

Separate beds

If you have the space, many people enjoy sleeping in separate beds while still being in the same room as their partner. This way you can have your own mattress, bedding, and sleep routine without feeling like you’re sleeping alone. If you have the space two single beds or two small double beds could be great options, and you can push the beds together if you want to get closer.

For a lot of people, their bedroom isn’t big enough for two separate beds. In this case, you can always try a zip and link bed, which has two mattresses attached, so you can have two different comfort levels.

Separate rooms

For couples who have vastly different work or sleep schedules, sleeping in entirely different rooms is the best way to go about their sleep divorce. While it might seem extreme to outsiders, it’s the best way to ensure that you both get the right environment for good sleep. Having your own space to sleep in can help with relaxation and downtime, especially if you like time to yourself.

Most importantly? Communicate

As with any relationship issue, the most important aspect is to communicate with your partner.

When it comes to asking for a sleep divorce, be open about the effects that your sleep issues are causing you and actively listen to how your partner responds. You may find that they’ve been feeling the same or there could be some other solutions they want to try first. The most important thing to remember is that you should do what is best for you and your relationship, don’t worry about what you think you “should” be doing as a couple.

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