Relationships

Sleeping solo may be more common than you think

Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM ET

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Sleeping in separate beds may sound unromantic, but up to 40 percent of couples say they do it. Sometimes it's the only way to catch some Zzs.

Your dude snores and carries out loud, involved conversations in his sleep. Or maybe it’s your special lady who’s impossible to snooze next to, what with her predilection for sleep-punching and sleep-kicking. Either way, you’re this close to pulling a Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

Sleeping in separate beds – or even separate bedrooms – sounds so unromantic, but it’s actually not uncommon: according to a Canadian sleep scientist, 30 to 40 percent of couples sleep separately. That’s what Colleen Carney, director of Ryerson University’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory, told the CBC this week.

According to the most data from the National Sleep Foundation, one in four American couples sleep separately. It might be driven by the aforementioned snoring or other annoyances caused by a restless sleeper, but sleeping apart could also be the result of a pair who is on opposite work schedules – one works nights, the other works days. “Usually, it’s something like that driving it,” says New York City psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz. But she says people might also retreat for emotional or sexual reasons.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to poorer health, including increased likelihood of obesity, and a study published last month showed that zombie-fied couples who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to fight.

So if retreating to separate sleeping quarters is working for you and your partner – hey, snooze on, Saltz says. But make sure you’re not missing out on the intimacy that comes with sharing a bed, and she’s not just talking about the sexy stuff.

“We’re chitchatting, we’re snuggling – even if we’re just watching something together, there’s a togetherness that occurs at night naturally” for couples who share a bed, Saltz says. And some of the spontaneity of your sex life may be lost if you sleep separately, she adds. “It does make intimacy more difficult. The spontaneity of, ‘I’m here, you’re here, let’s get in the mood.’ You have to be much more purposeful about it” if you’re sleeping apart, Saltz says. 


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