Sleeping in the same bed may be considered the norm for married couples, but according to a 2005 survey, for 31% of them, it just doesn't work, while 48% of those surveyed admitted that their partner's sleep disorder caused problems in their relationship.
Conducted by the US-based National Sleep Foundation, the poll revealed more about how sleep habits and disorders impact relationships than it did on what the actual sleeping apart did to relationships.
Dubbed a "sleep divorce", a variety of studies have been conducted to determine whether couples should be sleeping together or apart, and the jury is still out on which is more ideal.
Are you a sleep divorcee? Is one of you sleeping with your baby while the other catches up on zzz's? Has sleeping apart been good for your marriage? Tell us by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
Better together? Not always
Research conducted in Canada found that 30% to 40% of couples sleep separately, and despite the common belief that sleeping together is good for couples, brain scan technology showed that the constant movement by a partner during sleep means your brain cannot shut down enough to achieve the deeper stages of sleep needed for a proper rest.
To make matters worse, women may be more susceptible to poor quality sleep with a spouse than their male partners.
A conclusion reached by Austrian researchers, who monitored the sleep quality of 10 heterosexual couples for a period of 28 days, found that sharing a bed “had negative effects on sleep in women.”
And the problem only increases when marital problems arise, reports researchers from the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.
“For females, less negative partner interaction during the day predicted greater sleep efficiency in the following night, whereas vice versa for males, higher sleep efficiency predicted less negative partner interaction the following day.”
Speaking of arguments
Findings remain gender-neutral on the topic of arguments as a result of a lack of sleep, according to the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.
Their team concluded that with less than 7 hours of sleep, “couples interacted in a more hostile way than when at least one partner slept more.”
- Also see: Is it a good idea to share your bed with your child? and We tried co-sleeping with baby in our bed. This is how it went
On the other hand
While the argument for separate beds is strong, many experts maintain that the pros of sleeping in the same bed far outweighs the cons.
“The psychological need for closeness and security, particularly at night, trumps the equally important need for good quality sleep,” argues sleep specialist and adjunct professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr Wendy Troxel.
Well known for her work in analysing sleep in the context of relationships, Dr Troxel believes that what previous research lacks is a firm grasp of the condition of a marriage since "relationship security and marital satisfaction have been shown to influence sleep at the individual level.”
Her 2009 study found that the happier the wife, the better her sleep quality, and she would overall have “less difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, fewer early morning awakenings, and more restful sleep as compared to unhappily married women.”
For UK-based researchers from the University of Hertfordshire, the key to a happy marriage is proximity during sleep.
A study of 1000 participants found that couples who spent the night in close physical contact were happier than those who did not touch at all.
Those who slept just an inch (2,54 cm) apart were found to be the happiest. But maybe they didn't have a baby in the bed.
Are you a sleep divorcee? Has sleeping apart been good for your marriage? Is one of you sleeping with your baby while the other catches up on zzz's? Tell us by emailing to email@example.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
- No, you're not imagining it, your in-laws really did become worse after you had children
- Dads vs in-laws
- How to child-proof your marriage
- A furious mom's open letter to all mothers-in-law
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive Parent24 stories directly to your inbox.