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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

More Love & Sex from MSN Living:

What He's Really Thinking After 1, 5, and 10 Years of Marriage

What She's Really Thinking After 1, 5, and 10 Years of Marriage

Avoid These Sneaky Love Landslides

 

96Comments
Aug 22, 2012 10:27PM
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My husband and I have had separate beds/rooms for a long time. We have been together for 13 years, and get along great! Our separateness came about for several reasons, he likes the t.v. on to sleep, I like it quiet...He takes up a lot of room, and I end up in a corner, and he is a very restless sleeper. All in all, it has worked very well for us both to get a good nights sleep, and a better relationship all around!
Aug 22, 2012 10:23PM
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My partner and I have been together for 17 years.  We've lived together for the last 8. When I moved in with him, we slept together for the first 2 weeks until he teased me one night about my snoring. I asked if he wanted me to sleep in the other bedroom and when he shrugged his shoulders, off I went. I was furious and hurt. He tried to smooth things over by asking me to sleep with him again. I refused. Eight years later, we are still in separate beds and very happy. I love having the bed to myself and couldn't imagine sharing it with someone again.  It works for us. He works swing shift and is a very light sleeper.  I snore and toss and turn.  Sex was never a bedtime thing for us.  And it's better than ever.  A well rested couple is a happy couple.
Aug 22, 2012 10:09PM
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In my first marriage my ex and I spooned all night and woke up that way in the AM. Then I met someone who had never been married and when she said that she would like her own room when she got married, I said that was out of the question with me. It was a long distance relationship and we ended as friends. Damn Karmic retribution.  I have re-married and now sleep in seperate beds in seperate rooms. It's a temperature thing plus my wife said that she feels me moving around and it wakes her up. I have restless leg syndrome. She also said that she wakes up when I get in and out of the bed to go to the bathroom,

 

BTW the first time that I took care of my restless leg problem while in bed and she was too tired for sexr I forgot to explain it to her first. She said that it upset her and I can understand why. However I showed her several articles that support this non-medication treatment. I'm serious that the orgasm will treat your RLS in an instant and it does not matter what sex that you are.  

Aug 22, 2012 9:42PM
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I came home late one night to find my best friend sleeping with my wife. As they both woke up in surprise I said "Bill, as her husband I HAVE to. But YOU?" <rim shot>
Aug 22, 2012 9:41PM
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Are people tired of shafting? I'm not.
Aug 22, 2012 9:22PM
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We sleep in separate bedrooms for all of the reasons mentioned.  She has severe sleep apnea and restlesness and has recently started using a sleep machine.  Sleeping next to her is like sleeping next to Darth Vader during an earthquake.  Having different sleep schedules contributed to the problem.  If anything, sex has been more frequent ... probably for a couple of reasons:  1) because we don't sleep together we force ourselves to have more together time and 2) we sleep better and as a result we have fewer instances where one of us feels too tired and worn out for sex. 

Aug 22, 2012 9:11PM
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I have suggested to my husband that we get separate beds, but he doesn't want to do it. For over 10 years before we got together, I had a queen-sized bed all to myself every night, and I took full advantage of it. Even though I've been sharing that queen-sized bed for just over 10 years now, I still haven't quite broken the habit of taking up the entire bed when I sleep. My husband has complained many times that I constantly jab my elbows into his face and ribs when I am asleep. And, if my asthma/allergies get really bad, I will snore a bit. Not too much. But, I have been told that it's just loud enough to be annoying, especially when it's right in his ear. 

But, the problem isn't just me. My husband often works late evening shifts, usually between 4 PM and 1 AM. So, he usually stays up all night and goes to bed around 7 AM. I usually stay up until around 4 AM at the latest and get up around 10 AM. (I do freelance work from home, so I can set my own hours.) So, we usually only spend on average about 3 hours together in bed each day, anyway. When he comes to bed, it almost always wakes me up. And, when I get up a few hours later, it disturbs and wakes him up. And, for those 3 hours or so when we are in bed together? It's definitely not spent cuddling! We tried that once early on in our relationship. He put me in a major headlock in his sleep. It was tight enough that I couldn't get out of it, and I had trouble waking him up. But, these days, he HATES being touched when he's asleep. If I accidentally brush up against him, he'll do this really annoying whine-and-squirm thing. Kind of reminds me of a baby that's really uncomfortable and on the verge of crying.

So, when we had to buy a new bed a few months ago, I asked him if he wanted to get separate smaller beds instead of one big one. (We'd still share the same room, though.) He wouldn't have it! His reasons were things like how married people are supposed to share a bed and the whole sex thing. As for the sex issue, I pointed out that we had an entire house for that. And, as neither one of us has a history of sexsomnia, it's highly unlikely we'd ever have sex while we're asleep. And, as neither one of us really cares much for strictly adhering to cultural norms just for the sake of conformity, I fail to see how the whole idea of married people having to share a single bed would be an issue. But, in the end, we ended up getting another single queen bed. One large bed was cheaper than two smaller ones, and our current bedroom is too small for multiple beds. *shrug* Maybe in a few years when we've finished all the renovations on our small house (which includes adding a large master bedroom) he will reconsider his position.
Aug 22, 2012 9:08PM
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My husband loves a free flow water bed. I prefer a hardwood floor with a mat (and no, I'm not Asian). He's a blanket thief. Steals them then tosses them over into the floor - on his side. And he adores pillows. He has to have at least 3 while I don't even want one.  We both like the same temperature range (I changed him on that issue-it only took 6 years!) He needs light and sounds, I like darkness and silence. We still share a bed (mostly), but he's coming to realize that sometime (in the next decade), we'll have to have separate areas.  On for my "bed" ( a not walk area) and his bed.
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