Sleeping in the same bed as your partner is something most people just do, but has anyone ever thought about why? Sure, there is the cuddling and intimacy factor that happens in a shared bed, but are there any benefits other than that? Trend on the street is that there are a lot of couples who are starting to sleep in separate beds to benefit their sleep, health, and get this: their relationship. But this isn’t a new idea—Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip slept in separate beds their entire marriage, and they stood the test of time. While for them, it was an upper-class tradition and norm, they too knew the benefits of uninterrupted sleep. All of this made us wonder, should couples sleep in the same bed? We leaned on experts to learn more about separate beds for couples and along the way, got their advice for couples who want to give it a try.
Why Couples Choose to Sleep in Separate Beds
Some people choose to call this decision a “Sleep Divorce,” and even though that sounds harsh, that’s basically what it is. This happens when two partners decide together that they need different sleeping arrangements—usually in separate rooms—because one or both of the partners are interrupted by the other’s sleeping patterns. Since quality sleep can affect everything from our mood to our productivity, relationships, and most importantly, our health, couples are realizing that sleeping in the same bed just because they “should” doesn’t have to be their narrative. After incorporating sleeping in separate beds, many couples are experiencing better sleep—which positively impacts their entire life, and yes, that includes their relationship too.
The pros of sleeping in separate beds
If you or your partner have disruptive sleep behaviors (snoring, rolling around, sweating, talking in your sleep, etc.), it can negatively affect the other’s quality of sleep. “If this is the case, and one or both partners are not getting restful sleep, it could impact their quality of life, stress level, and mood, resulting in more conflict in the relationship,” says Kaufman. So not only is getting enough quality sleep crucial for your overall health, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationship due to aggravation or resentment that is caused by the partner who is not sleeping well. “By sleeping in separate beds, one can optimize personal space and uninterrupted rest,” says Rachel Holzberg, LMSW of Manhattan Wellness, which alleviates any conflict and leads to better moods for both people.
The cons of sleeping in separate beds
When you sleep in separate beds, you can miss out on the increased feelings of connection and closeness it offers. “Sleeping next to someone is incredibly vulnerable and requires you to let go of control when it comes to things like the way you look or the sleep sounds you make,” says NYC-based psychotherapist Alexis B. Kaufman, LCSW. When you allow yourself to share that vulnerability with a partner and trust that they won’t judge you for your weird sleeping habits, there is a bond that forms. There is also “value in physical connection even if it’s laying side by side,” adds Jennifer Teplin, LCSW, Founder of Manhattan Wellness, so even in the morning hours after you wake up next to one another, you get an uninterrupted minute or two together before the day starts, and that quality time can strengthen your connection as well. When you sleep in separate beds, you have to find new ways to create those moments.
How To Sleep in Separate Beds Without Destroying Your Relationship
Have an open conversation with your partner
The last thing you want to do is make your partner feel bad for interfering with your sleep—they don’t have much control over it, after all—so this conversation comes down to how you say what you want to say to your partner. For example, make sure to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements to avoid making it sound like you’re blaming them.
Here are two examples of how you can suggest sleeping in a separate bed from your partner, according to Kaufman:
- I haven’t been sleeping well and noticed that can really impact my mood and the way I treat you. This relationship means a lot to me, so I want to try sleeping in a separate bed to make sure I’m getting the sleep I need to show up as the kind of partner I want to be for you.
- I love being with you, but I am a sensitive sleeper and noticed I have been unable to get a good night’s rest in our shared bed. I want to try sleeping in another bed to see if it improves the quality of my sleep.
Throughout the conversation, “reflect on all of the opportunities for a solution and remain open-minded,” says Teplin. For example, your partner might suggest an alternative solution, like mouth taping to reduce snoring, adjusting the darkness and temperature in the room until its suitable for both people, having one partner go to sleep before the other, getting a larger bed for more space, or trying out a sound machine. Experts agree that you should exhaust all of your options before making a final decision about your sleeping arrangements.
Build a bedtime routine that prioritizes spending time together
Develop a routine that encourages closeness and connection, and stick to it even when life is busy. Kaufman recommends winding down together by spending time cuddling in bed or watching a movie on the couch. And in the morning, after both partners are awake, spending time together in one bed before getting the day started.
Make sex a priority
You might be wondering how am I supposed to get my love on if I’m not in the same bed as my partner? And to that, experts say don’t worry about a thing! There are plenty of ways that you can remain intimate with your partner before it’s time to catch Zzz’s—you just need to be more intentional about when and where. According to Kaufman, “you need to communicate about your expectations and preferences around intimacy to make sure you continue to meet each other’s needs.” This could look like scheduling sex, planning certain nights you invite one another into your individual beds, or watching a steamy movie on the couch.
The Verdict: Should Couples Sleep in Separate Beds?
The answer to whether or not couples should sleep in the same bed is not simply yes or no, so rest assured, whatever your preference is, it’s not wrong. There are many contributing factors to consider, and it is the job of the couple to determine what will work best for them as individuals and as partners. If that means sleeping in the same bed, great! If that means sleeping in separate beds, great! Teplin put it perfectly: “Whether you’re in a shared bed or separate bed, connection is an intention that both partners have to focus on to ensure it remains.”