sleep divorce

Sleep Divorce: Why You Might Want To Sleep in Separate Bedrooms From Your Partner

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the term “sleep divorce”? Probably nothing good, right? 

The old-school way of living with your partner includes sleeping in the same room, same bed, and under the same duvet cover. Often, people still believe that not sharing a bed with your partner is a sign that something is wrong in a relationship. But what if it doesn’t work for some people, causing disturbed sleep?

Not all partners have similar schedules and sleeping preferences. You might be an early bird who goes to sleep early and wakes up early, while your partner might prefer to burn the midnight oil and wake up in the late morning. 

Or, you might have a preference for sleeping in a cold room, on a soft mattress while your partner likes to be toasty and sleep on a hard-as-rock mattress because they believe it’s better for their back. 

Whatever the case might be, sleeping in separate beds and bedrooms doesn’t have to mean that the relationship is over. In fact, some research shows that so-called “sleep divorce” might even be beneficial to our sleep and relationship quality. 

Sleep Divorce: What It Is, Its Benefits, and How To Make It Work

What Is a Sleep Divorce?

A sleep divorce is an arrangement between partners when they decide to sleep in separate beds in the same room or sleep in two different rooms altogether. The reasons for a sleep divorce can vary from couple to couple, but most often are:

  • Conflicting sleep schedules and patterns
  • Different mattress and sleep environment preferences
  • Need for personal space
  • Disagreement on the interior choices 

A 2017 survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that even 1 in 4 couples choose to sleep in separate bedrooms. It’s a practice that’s becoming more and more popular amongst couples of all ages, and relationships of different lengths. 

You don’t have to be together for 20 years and have three kids to decide that you need space from your partner and to get a good night’s sleep. Even young couples are choosing to prioritize their sleep. 

There are 1.1 million uses of hashtag #seperaterooms on TikTok with thousands of young people sharing their tips and advice on how to implement sleep divorce in a relationship and what are the benefits of it to the relationship. 

Why Sleep Divorce Might Be Good for Your Relationship

Despite the popular belief that a sleep divorce is bad for the relationship, there are actually many benefits that couples experience when implementing this arrangement in their lives. 

Let’s start with the obvious benefit – better quality sleep. A 2023 survey from Sleep Foundation found that 52.9% of respondents who started a sleep divorce say that it improved their sleep. And a good night’s sleep is not only important for our overall health but also for the health of our relationships

What’s interesting about improved sleep quality and quantity is that it also has a positive effect on our sex lives. A small study published in 2015 found that women were more likely to engage in partnered sex if they had one extra hour of sleep. 

Another benefit of sleep divorce is not only more sex but better sex. One of the reasons why couples lose interest in sex over time is the lack of eroticism, which happens when the couple leaves the honeymoon phase and all the excitement dies down. 

Cultivating conscious personal space in a relationship is one way to rekindle the flame and have better sex. Relationship expert Esther Perel is a huge believer in making space in the relationship to cultivate eroticism, “desire is rooted in absence and longing.” A sleep divorce is one way to make space and let your desire for your partner grow.

Here’s How To Make a Sleep Divorce Work

If you’re curious to try sleeping separately from your partner, then let’s discuss a few tips to help you both find a way to make this arrangement work. 

Gentle Communication

While the reasons for sleeping separately might be clear to you, it doesn’t mean that they’re clear to your partner. So, when you decide to bring up the subject of sleep divorce, make sure that you’re communicating your needs to your partner gently. 

Avoid putting blame on them for snorting or stealing the blanket and that is the reason why you want to sleep separately. It’s best to focus on the positives and explain your reasons in a clear and neutral way. 

Find the Arrangement That Works for Both of You

For the sleep divorce to be effective and not cause friction in your relationship, it’s important that you communicate about the arrangement beforehand and find a way to sleep separately that works both for you and your partner. 

It’s important that both of you are on the same page when it comes to this decision and neither of the partners feels like their needs are abandoned or neglected. 

Also, you should discuss how you want to sleep separately. For some, it might look like sleeping in separate bedrooms during workdays and then together on the weekends. Or, you might want to dedicate three days per week to sleeping separately when it works with your work schedules, and then the rest, you might want to sleep together. 

Schedule Time Together Before Sleep

It’s a good idea to schedule some intimate time together before you both go off to sleep in your own beds or bedrooms. And intimate time doesn’t have to mean sex. You can spend some time in one of your beds simply cuddling, talking, or watching TV. 

Research shows that for many couples, sleeping together is a binding ritual. If you’re sleeping apart, the key is to create a ritual that can serve the same purpose of connecting you two in some way. 

Adjust As Needed

Just like many things in your relationship, a sleep divorce is progress. So, keep an open mind even if things don’t work out the first time. Maybe you miss your partner next to you or you feel like there isn’t enough cuddling time anymore now that you sleep in separate beds.

Feel free to adjust the rules of your new arrangement as you go and change things that don’t work. If you find yourself needing more quality time before bed, ask your partner for it and find a way to spend some time together. 

Remember – It Doesn’t Have To Be Permanent

The 2023 Sleep Foundation survey found that 25.7% of couples who sleep separately eventually recouple, and 34.9% of those couples do it because they miss each other. It’s totally normal for your sleep divorce to be a thing that’s seasonal or temporary.

You might want to sleep separately during pregnancy to ensure that both of you have better sleep, or during particularly stressful periods at work when your schedules don’t match and it’s hard to rest well for both of you. 

Whether sleeping together with your partner is a regular or temporary thing, remember that it’s totally normal. You and your partner are the ones that make the rules for your relationship and as long as it works for you, that’s what’s important.