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More Couples Sleeping in Separate Beds, Survey Finds

One expert explains how splitting up can bring couples together.

By Kristin Wong Aug 22, 2012 2:59PM

Photo: Brad Wilson/Getty ImagesRecent surveys show that more couples are sleeping separately, and while some may think this would create a bar in intimacy, it's actually saving relationships.

In fact, sleeping separately is becoming so common that the National Association of Home Builders expects that 60 percent of custom-built homes will include dual master bedrooms in the year 2015.

A study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 25 percent of couples in the U.S. sleep separately; similarly, a recent British survey found that one in 10 British couples also sleep in separate beds. The Heart Beat talked to relationship expert Dr. Tracey Marks, the author of Master Your Sleep. She advocates separate sleeping and tells us why it's a good idea for some couples.

"With some couples, one partner is severely sleep deprived because the other partner keeps them awake with snoring, restlessness, keeping the room too hot, etc.," Dr. Marks tells us. "If the sleep deprivation makes you cranky, it's going to affect your relationship and you would be better off sleeping in a different bed so you can be in a better mood with your partner."

Conventionally, the notion of sleeping in the same bed is thought to create intimacy between spouses. But as Marks explains in a Huffington Post piece:

"While the media presents images of loving couples sleeping contentedly in each other's arms all night long, for many the reality is much different."

And she's right. A recent survey actually shows that couples fight 167 times a year in the bedroom. The number one cause of those fights is blanket hogging, followed by snoring and being too hot. These are all things that can easily be remedied by declaring your bedroom independence.

"The main problem arises when one partner feels rejected by it," Marks tells us. "Intellectually he may understand why it's a good idea, but he struggles with the idea that his partner doesn't want him.  I think this is a more likely outcome when there are underlying relationship problems and sleeping apart just compounds the problems and makes things feel less intimate."

Her answer for proposing the idea is to make sure that you start with a "clean slate," otherwise sleeping apart could exacerbate whatever problems are happening in the relationship.

But what about sex?

"Sleeping in separate beds can't mean no more sex," Marks says. "Sex is for waking hours, so do it before you go to sleep so that sleep and sex are completely distinct entities."

Sounds easy enough.  But as Marks mentioned, the media does present couples as bed-sharers, so there is a bit of a stigma with splitting up in the bedroom.

"People are going to take your lead in reacting to your situation," Dr. Marks tells us. "That is, if you are conflicted about it and mention it as though you are admitting some deep dark secret, the listener is going to respond that way…But if you are resolved that you are doing what's best for your relationship and both you and partner are fine with it, you can talk about it with confidence and emphasize how much more intimate your relationship is because of it."

And as for talking about it with your children, Marks advises:

"Whatever the reason is for needing to sleep separately, you emphasize the positive—dad and mom like it this way, mom and dad think it's important to get a good night's sleep, mom and dad like to cuddle in the same room while they are awake, but once we fall asleep we're not aware that we're not in the same bed, etc."

What do you think? Do you and your partner sleep in separate beds? Would you try it to keep from fighting in the bedroom?

Photo: Brad Wilson/Getty Images

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96Comments
Sep 21, 2013 12:41AM
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I have been married to my husband for 15 yrs. we have had 2 children together and i have one from a previous marriage. In the beginning we slept together, ALWAYS. then my youngest child was born, she's 8 now. Since the day she came home from the hospital, he's slept on the couch. It's NOT a good thing either! I miss him sleeping w/me. I miss the snuggles and the hugs and the laughter and the talking and yes i miss the sex ALOT! you can say it makes for a better nights sleep, that's true in a way but for the most part, IT SUX! we have literally became roommates now. IT SUX! I want a lover and a partner. i need and miss the closeness that we once shared. Now, i'm the nanny that lives w/her husband and their kids. NO, there's no intimacy at all anymore. it didn't happen overnight, but it DID happen. like gaining weight, it just kinda creeps up on you and the next thing you know, you're all alone! so, if this is something your thinking would be the best thing for your marriage, just make sure you're ready to give up your closeness. No matter how much you say it could never happen to you and your relationship, TRUST ME~IT CAN AND IT PROBABLY WILL~GOOD LUCK and i hope you don't lose more than the snoring from your partner! 
Aug 23, 2012 12:13AM
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I love my bed and sleeping alone.  I am a restless sleeper so it is better to sleep apart.
Aug 23, 2012 12:00AM
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I prefer to sleep in seprate houses.
Aug 22, 2012 11:40PM
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My oldest brother told me years ago the key to his nearly 30 year marriage has been seperate bedrooms. I snore and my lover twitches, we started with separate bedrooms from the beginning and feel that it has been nothing but beneficial. I would add that we also have separate bathrooms, a girl needs her own bathroom! My boyfriend would add that he much prefers not having the share a bathroom with all my "stinky oils and potions". He a has spartan masculine bathroom that fits his personality and I have a wonderfully feminine bathroom full of amenities. My brother and sister in law are putting on an addition to their home, a bathroom of his own for my brother ;o)
Aug 22, 2012 11:37PM
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me and my wife have been together for 28 years we would never dream of sleeping apart  if you really love the one your with you will learn to get over  the little things you use to stay apart  you spend all day a part at work and other things if you don't spend your nights together then why are you marred at all
Aug 22, 2012 11:31PM
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Back to Lucy and Desi in twin beds -- i you live long enough -- things keep coming back lol :)
Aug 22, 2012 11:23PM
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i feel sorry for those that have to sleep in a separate bed.  there are few things in the world as pleasant as spooning with someone or having them spoon with you.  thankfully, after 20 plus years i still totally enjoy going to bed with my woman.  heck, we could sleep on a cot:)  and the spooning after sex just makes the whole experience even that much better!   no blanket hogging, no snoring issues of great magnitude, separate controls on the electric blanket.  what is there to fight about?  and what is this garbage about 167 arguments  a year in the bedroom.  gots some immature selfish couples surveyed if ya ask me.   
Aug 22, 2012 11:22PM
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If my wife and I are in separate beds we'll be in separate homes. We've been married 32 years and I've learned to live with her snoring. We're at one fight and holding during those 32 years and it sure as heck didn't happen in the bedroom.
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