If sleeping with your partner has become a nightly battle, it could be time for a ‘sleep divorce’. From snoring to duvet hogging, here we discover why more and more couples are choosing to sleep separately…
What is a ‘sleep divorce’?
A sleep divorce is when a couple decides to sleep apart in pursuit of a blissful night’s sleep. According to the National Bed Federation, one in six couples who live together now sleep apart – with almost nine out of 10 of them doing so in separate rooms.
Snoring has been cited as the leading cause of a sleep break-up but there could be many other reasons. “Differing sleep habits, timings, comfort needs and work schedules all have the potential to disturb sleep quality. Similarly, sleep disorders such as snoring, sleep apnoea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome can result in one or both partners waking up unrefreshed,” explains Dr. Guy Meadows, co-founder of Sleep School.
What are the benefits?
Lack of shut-eye can take its toll on a relationship, especially if you’re blaming your partner for your sleep deprivation. A sleep divorce could therefore strengthen your relationship, says Dr. Meadows. “If sleeping in separate bedrooms means you’re able to achieve better quality sleep on a regular basis, then in the short term you can expect to start feeling more refreshed and energised. You’ll also experience better mental focus and motivation and feel happier and more emotionally balanced. It’s fair to say that if you wake up in a better mood, this can only be a good thing for your relationship,” he explains.
Furthermore, improved sleep can have significant long-term health benefits including boosted immunity, lower blood pressure and better weight management.
Will it kill your sex life?
A sleep divorce doesn’t mean intimacy will be a thing of the past. In fact, the arrangement could reinvigorate your sex life. “Sleep issues negatively impact on a relationship in multiple ways, but sex is perhaps the most obvious ‘victim’ if only because it most commonly takes place in the bedroom, which has now become a sort of hostile zone. Resentment fades quickly once a person doesn’t feel sleep-deprived,” says Eleanor McKenzie, editor and sex expert at LadyVictoria Howard.
“Intimacy isn’t dependent on sleeping together. The desire for sexual intimacy may be sparked in any place, at any time, and if the bedroom (and you now have two to choose from!) is viewed as more of a playroom than a place where you have sex then fall asleep, it’s going to be more fun.”
How to ask for a sleep divorce?
You’ll want to approach the topic sensitively to avoid your partner feeling hurt or rejected – and don’t use the term ‘divorce’ as it’s too “emotionally loaded”, says Eleanor.
“Time the conversation carefully and give plenty of time to a conversation about it. Be clear about the reasons for doing it. Emphasise that it isn’t because you want to avoid your partner, it’s because you need a different sleeping environment. It is a conversation you need to be open to having more than once, and there will be some trial and error,” she adds.
Main image: Shutterstock
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