If Sharing A Bed With Your Partner Isn’t Working, It Might Be Time For A “Sleep Divorce”

I love my partner, but I don’t sleep with him. 

Let me paint you a picture: we’re snuggled in bed, my eyes are slowly shutting and the world is drifting away, then, suddenly, I’m sharing a bed with a freight train. If it wasn’t obvious, my partner snores — LOUDLY. When he’s asleep, I’m awake. 

But I’m not completely free of blame, either. My body doesn’t retain heat, so I act as a personal sauna under the covers for my partner. We’re super compatible when we’re awake, but not so much when we’re sleeping. 

I’m not the only one debating if separate sleeping arrangements could be what saves our sleep schedules and our relationship. 

There are tons of reasons couples don’t share a bed. It could be that one person suffers from insomnia, another might have night terrors, or be prone to talking in their sleep. Some people want the room to feel like a tundra, while others prefer a desert. But just because you and your partner might not sleep well together, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be together.

Sleep Divorce 

I know no one wants to hear the ‘D’-word in marriage, but if you and your partner are having trouble sharing a bed at night, a “sleep divorce” might improve your relationship more than you think. 

A ‘sleep divorce’ simply means you sleep separately. You can still live together, share the same room, and even wake up together. But investing in separate beds can be the best investment in your life and your relationship.

Sleep divorces have always been popular. Fifty-nine percent of couples who started sleeping separately report an improvement in their sleep quality. Of the couples who do sleep together, 75% of Americans say their sleep is disturbed by their partners. Because of that, 10% of married couples sleep in separate bedrooms, and 25% sleep in separate beds. 

Everyone knows that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most crucial things you can do for your health. It’s also one of the most stressful things to deal with if your partner is the reason you’re not getting good sleep. If you or your partner is costing the other one sleep, try sleeping separately for a bit and see if it improves your life!

And no, just because you and your partner don’t sleep together doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. Terry Cralle, RN, clinical sleep educator and spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, says, “If you think about it, sleep compatibility is a tall order. For starters, some sleep hot; others sleep cold. Some like a firm mattress; others like a soft one. Some want to be able to hear a pin drop; others like the hum of a ceiling fan. And some partners are blanket bandits and pillow thieves, while some have toes like icicles and others have misaligned sleep chronotypes.” 

Yep, that statement sums it all up. You can have the perfect partner, the perfect match, but as soon as the lights go out and you begin to get comfy under the covers, the compatibility shifts. 

What About Intimacy?

Yes, sex most often happens in the bed, and when you share a bed every night, you’re more likely to have sex. But sleeping in different beds doesn’t mean the sex and intimacy will go away. In the end, we’re talking about sleeping, meaning that everything you do before you go to sleep can be together or even in one bed. 

Also, there is a bigger chance for you to be intentional about intimacy when you don’t share a bed, rather than just letting it happen when it happens. While there’s a lot to say about spontaneity, that won’t go away if you sleep in separate beds for the night. 

If you plan on getting a sleep divorce and you’re worried about the dip in intimacy, have a frank conversation with your partner and find some times when you can schedule intimacy. I know it doesn’t sound romantic, but it will be beneficial and calm some nerves.

The Benefits to Sharing a Bed

By now you might be debating exchanging your king for two twin beds, but there are also benefits to sharing a bed with your partner. 

Dr. Greg Potter, chief science officer at Resilient Nutrition, says that sharing a bed can “improve [people’s] sleep, probably in part to feelings of intimacy and security.” It makes sense — you can be ‘on’ all day, but when you snuggle up in bed, it’s just you and your partner. The walls are down and the world is shut out. 

When you sleep with someone you love, your body naturally releases dopamine throughout the night, which makes you feel pleasure; and serotonin, which makes you happier. So yes, sleeping with your partner, scientifically, makes you happier. 

Personally, my brain misinterprets ‘bedtime’ for ‘overthinking time’ too often and I’ll get caught up in my inner monologue or start rethinking previous events or interactions. When you sleep with your partner, not only do you have someone to talk these things through, your brain is also less likely to launch its inner monologue because the person you love the most is right next to you. 

Yes, it is wonderful to share a bed with the person you love, but that’s only if you two are actually sleeping (or being intimate in other ways). It’s not as cute and romantic if you’re constantly getting woken up by his nighttime habits or if his sleep is disturbed by yours.

Work it Out

While it might not be as commonly portrayed in the media or talked about as openly, sleep divorces are very normal. That being said, you don’t have to rush into one at the first sign of discomfort. As Terry Cralle said, it’s difficult to find someone who matches your sleep style perfectly. 

If one of you (or both of you) can’t sleep in the same bed for outward reasons (snoring, too much/too little heat, sleep talking, insomnia), it’s important to note that you’re not separating based on a relational problem. Your relationship isn’t doomed because your hubby sounds like a freight train when he sleeps. 

Look into ways that you and your partner can still sleep together without destroying each other’s sleep. If your man snores all night, look into nasal strips. If you and your partner can’t agree on a temperature (67°F is the optimal sleeping temperature), maybe invest in a bed that will adjust to you and your partner’s personal temperature preferences or some cooling blankets

If you and your partner’s sleeping schedules don’t mesh, you can talk that out, too. Set aside about thirty minutes before the earliest sleeper goes to bed and spend some quality time talking. When one of you falls asleep, the other can go back downstairs or get some work done out of the bedroom, so as to not disturb the sleeping partner, and come back to bed when they’re ready.

Look into the problem that’s causing you to not mesh well in bed and see if there’s a fix to it. A sleep divorce might also be called for if you and your partner are fighting or in a time of stress.  

More than likely, if there’s tension when you’re awake, there will also be tension when you’re going to sleep or sleeping. If you’re losing sleep because you and your partner are fighting, a sleep divorce isn’t going to solve too much. Have open and honest conversations about ways to make the relationship stronger and ease the tension. In this case, separating at bedtime and adding more distance between the two of you might be worse for your relationship. 

Make sure to be clear and honest about why you’re not sleeping well with your partner. If it’s something you can fix with a conversation, look into that instead of creating a greater divide between the two of you. 

If you’re not too sure about sleeping separately, take it slow. If you’re stressed about losing sleep before you go to work, maybe sleep separately on weeknights and together on the weekend. You can also try sleeping separately for a month and see if your sleep quality changes enough to keep doing so.


Have you ever heard of a sleep divorce before? Could you and your partner use one? Comment below!

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