Are you considering a sleep divorce?

The term “sleep divorce” has popped up recently to describe couples who sleep in different beds. It sounds quite negative, but it may be a relationship saver for some couples.

Why would I sleep in a different bed to my partner?

Roughly 1 in 7 Australians report their partner disturbs their sleep.

There are many reasons people may choose to sleep in a different bed to their partner. It could be logistics such as their partner working shift-work or being on call. It could also be different preferences like how warm you like the bedroom or how firm you like the mattress. It might even be because you both naturally have different times you like to sleep and wake. There are countless others from young children, pain, midnight toilet trips, hot flushes or even bad bedtime TV habits.Snoring, insomnia or restless legs can be other reasons couples chose to sleep apart. However, these can be symptoms of sleep disorders that can be managed with the right treatments. So, before you move out of the bedroom, encourage your partner to seek further advice from their GP first.
Regardless of the reason, with sleep so essential to our well-being, anything that protects your sleep is worth considering.

But, I sleep so
much better with my partner next to me.
The research on couples sleeping together is interesting. On one hand, couples sleeping together report a much higher sleep quality when they share a bed with their partner. Yet in laboratory sleep studies, couples sharing a bed have more disturbances and less deep sleep than people sleeping alone.

Sharing a bed does create an opportunity for bonding with your partner and can provide a sense of safety and security. However, if you’re struggling to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours sleep, sharing a bed may be doing more harm than good. After all, if you’re both exhausted you’re more likely to feel snappy and irritable with each other.

What’s the best way to ask for a sleep divorce?
Using the term “sleep divorce” probably isn’t the best way to open the conversation, nor is grabbing your pillows and storming out in the middle of the night! Here are some pointers for the best way to approach a conversation about sleeping apart:

  • Pick a neutral time when you can both focus without distractions.
  • Reassure your partner that you still care for them.
  • Tell them how you feel and listen to their concerns.
  • Make sure you plan other opportunities to be close and bond with your partner.
  • Discuss guidelines – Can you ever share a bed? Can they visit in the night?

Does my partner need help with their sleep?

If your partner snores, has trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep or feels an uncontrollable urge to move their legs, they may have a sleep disorder. Before you move to a new bed, try encouraging your partner to seek further advice from their GP.

As with many relationships matters, there is no easy answer. It’s up to you to decide what works for you both, together. Sleeping apart doesn’t have to mean your relationship is in crisis, but it can take a bit of planning to make it work for you.

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Read more great information about sleep at the Sleep Health Foundation