Being in a relationship with someone usually means you’re completely comfortable together. In fact, you might actually be more comfortable with that person than you are on your own. Naturally, that carries over to sleeping arrangements. Couples sleep in the same bed—that’s just the way it is. But why?
A long time ago, sleeping together in close quarters was just practical. Space was limited and you needed the extra body heat and security of having someone else close by. You’re at your most vulnerable when you’re asleep so having someone next to you can give you a little reassurance that if something happens and you don’t hear it, they might, resulting in a much more restful sleep. That is, as long as your bedmate isn’t the snore like a freight train, flail around like a maniac all night type of sleeper.
We all know getting enough sleep is a huge part of staying healthy. One night of tossing a turning can put you in a horrible mood and throw off your entire schedule. So, what are you supposed to do if you’re in a relationship then? Just accept that being with someone means sacrificing the quality of your good night’s sleep?
Well, you could do that. Or you could just sleep in separate beds. Sounds like a simple solution, but for some reason, there’s a stigma attached to a couple who chooses not to sleep next to each other. “People don’t want to talk about it. It’s a dirty little secret,” says Lee Crespi, a New York City-based couples therapist. “There are people who say sleeping apart is not good because it fosters distance, but I think you can argue both ways. People do, in fact, sleep more soundly when they sleep alone.”
Reports that Donald and Melania Trump sleep in separate beds have been making the rounds lately as if that is some kind of evidence that their relationship is clearly a farce. What happy couple would possibly want to sleep in separate beds? Well, light sleepers that can’t get any shut-eye with a sweaty snorer who likes to sleep with the TV on beside them. Or couples who operate on different schedules and want to spare each other the annoyance of their morning alarms.
Sleeping in separate beds could be a symptom of an unhappy relationship, or it could simply be an arrangement that works for everyone involved. If you don’t want anyone to assume you aren’t having as much sex or you’re this close to getting divorced because of your chosen sleeping arrangement, then just don’t tell anyone about it. It’s not as if people are peaking into your bedrooms at night to make sure you’re sleeping “the right way”.
Sleeping is a solitary activity and just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it with someone else every time. It’s actually possible sleeping apart can help your relationship. You don’t need to be together 24/7 and it’s not as if the time you spend sleeping is quality time together anyway. One Canadian study actually found that 30-40% of couples sleep in separate beds.
In the long run, when it comes to compatibility, it’s important to have certain things in common with your partner. Fortunately, your sleeping habits don’t have to be one of them. So, next time your partner is keeping you up all night, go sleep in the guest room (or invest in a super comfortable couch). Once you realize the hours of quality sleep you’re missing out on, you’ll never go back to suffering through sleepless nights next to your one and only.