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What Is a ‘Sleep Divorce’ and When Should You Consider One?

Illustration for article titled What Is a 'Sleep Divorce' and When Should You Consider One?

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When you actually stop to think about it, sharing a bed with another person—for the purpose of sleeping—is kind of a terrible idea. Sure, you may get used to sleeping next to a partner and feel more secure doing so, but in terms of sleep quality and disruptions, it’s hard to beat having your own bed.

With everyone chronically exhausted, you’d think that we’d do everything in our power to get the best night’s rest possible. And yet, it’s still considered the norm for couples to sleep in the same bed—to the point where there’s some stigma attached to not sharing a bed with a romantic partner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just ask some of the couples who have opted to get a “sleep divorce.” Here’s what that is and when you might consider one.

What is a sleep divorce?

Simply put, a sleep divorce is when people in a relationship who typically share a bed realize that they might be better off with a separate sleeping arrangement. This could mean I Love Lucy-style twin beds in the same room, separate bedrooms, or something else completely.

The idea is to take steps to make sure everyone involved gets the best night’s sleep they can. And in case it’s not clear by now, a sleep divorce is not a reflection on your actual relationship. In fact, it could help improve your relationship in a number of ways, including being able to have more patience with each other during the day because you’re well-rested.

When to consider a sleep divorce

If sleep disruptions or other issues are making your relationship worse, you and your partner might want to discuss a sleep divorce. A 2019 article in The New York Times provided an in-depth look at the concept of a sleep divorce, raising a number of reasons why it could be a solid option for some couples. Some of those include:

  • Sleeping on different schedules
  • Snoring and other disruptive breathing
  • No longer have the physical ability to share a bed comfortably
  • Having different sleep (and personal) hygiene standards
  • Being bitter/resentful towards your partner because it’s their fault you didn’t sleep well
  • Getting in arguments about sleeping and/or sharing a bed
  • Having different sleep preferences, like room temperature, amount of blankets, whether or not to sleep with the TV on, etc.

Also, don’t forget that people aren’t always open when it comes to topics like sharing a bed. Maybe you’re unhappy with your sleeping arrangement, but think your partner likes it, so you don’t say anything—and then it turns out that your partner is also looking for a change. A quick conversation could result in a situation that works better for everyone. 

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