A typical plot of American cinema: a married couple quarrels, and the husband, expelled from the family bedroom, goes to the sofa in the living room. A bedroom with a large bed is presented as the center of life in a couple, where children are not allowed or talk about work, where important confessions are made and tears are shed, where they have sex and, of course, relax. However, according to the US National Sleep Foundation, a quarter of couples actually sleep separately – in separate beds or even rooms, not hiding that this is how they get better sleep. Let’s see what is still more useful – sleeping in the same bed with a partner or separately – and what scientists think about it.
It is impossible to say for sure when sleeping together in a couple became a generally accepted norm in the Western world – for example , in the aristocratic circles of Europe it was accepted that everyone has their own bedroom, or even more than one. Of course, the less wealthy majority did not have to choose: people slept in one room or one bed with whole families, and not only because of the lack of space, but also to keep warm or not be afraid of the dark. Historian Roger Ekirch, author of a book about how people spent their nights in the old days, notes that being together in a dark bedroom brings together and makes it possible to talk about the most intimate, not necessarily with a husband or wife – remember the opportunity to keep secrets after lights out at summer camp.
Sharing a dream is something like a signal “we are good in a pair” for others. Sometimes people are embarrassed to admit that they are sleeping with a partner separately – suddenly someone thinks that there is a problem in the relationship. Some experts insist that sleeping together is important for the “exchange of energy”, however, without further explanation of what kind of energy and whether it is possible to exchange it in other ways. The argument “sleeping separately is just not quite right” is unconvincing, as is the notion that sleeping parents in the same bed is an important example for children. Children read love and warm relations between parents from many little things, and for their demonstration it is completely unnecessary to rest together.
An important question is how joint or separated sleep correlates with sexual life. Eight hours in the same bed may increase the likelihood of spontaneous sex – but frequent awakenings, lack of sleep, and generally poor rest negatively affect libido. If you are not getting enough sleep and feeling refreshed, then most likely you will not be up to sex. At the same time, experts say that those who sleep in different rooms only need to make a little more conscious effort to maintain intimacy – to allocate time for hugs, intimate conversations and, in fact, sex.
Hugs and physical contact are beneficial – they promote bonding through the production of the “love hormone” oxytocin . But physical intimacy is not synonymous with sleeping in the same bed, especially if you can’t sleep together. Couples sleep separately for different reasons: it can be one of them snoring or a tendency to constantly toss and turn (especially if the bed is not wide enough), different schedules, when one goes to bed later or gets up earlier and inadvertently wakes up the other, different comfortable temperatures when the blanket is full at night they pull in different directions. The bottom line is that for many, a separate sleep means the opportunity to have a good rest and be more alert during the day. Good mood and recuperation are also positively reflected in relationships.
Many couples sleep together simply because they don’t have an extra room. The housing problem continues to spoil the quality of sleep for a significant part of the world’s population
As psychologist Alexander Serov notes , sleep separately is often perceived as an indicator of conflict in a couple and, if there was no direct discussion, there is space for joint grievances and mutual claims. One of the partners may feel guilty for not wanting to sleep together, “as is customary,” or angry with himself or a partner because he cannot sleep and is forced to experience discomfort. The second partner may feel rejected and unattractive. But the relationship is unlikely to become stronger if one of the partners is chronically lack of sleep and is from this in an irritable mood. Trust, openness and the ability to calmly discuss problems are the foundation of healthy relationships , including sexual ones . If your partner is offended by your desire to sleep separately, you should talk and tell what the reason is. Yes, sleeping together as a couple is a common scenario, but if you don’t get enough sleep and suffer from snoring, heat, or your partner’s alarm clock too early, then you should break the habit and listen to common sense.
Discuss if there is any value for your couple in sleeping together – and what the need is behind it. According to Alexander Serov, in the course of the conversation, agreements may arise that are right for you: perhaps you will sleep separately only before responsible working days, and there will be no such need before the weekend. Or, for example, there will be a tradition to lie together in bed before going to bed or in the morning, and still sleep separately. It is important to remember that conditions that require medical attention are often interfering with sleeping together. If one of the partners has bruxism (teeth grinding), snoring or always restless sleep, it is important not only to provide peace of mind to the other (that is, to sleep separately), but also to start solving these problems by contacting a doctor.
According to scientists from Toronto, among Canadian couples, almost forty percent sleep in separate beds. There are no such statistics for Russia, but we suspect that they would be distorted: many couples sleep together simply because they do not have an extra room. The housing problem has spoiled not only Muscovites – it continues to spoil the quality of sleep for a significant part of the world’s population. Sleeping together or separately, each couple decides for themselves – and it would be great for everyone to be able to go to their own bedroom, focusing only on their own well-being.
Those who do not have the opportunity to go to different bedrooms can still improve the quality of their sleep together. It makes sense to spend money on a wide bed and a comfortable mattress – and it is better to put the bed so that you can get out of it both to the right and to the left without climbing over your partner. Buy dimmable bedside lamps so you don’t wake each other up by turning on the lights or interfere with sleepers by reading before bed. If the lighting is difficult to set up, and one of you is seriously disturbed by the light, a good sleeping mask may come in handy. Earplugs will help to get rid of the noise, and separate blankets will help to get rid of the difference in comfortable temperatures. Finally, don’t forget about basic sleep hygiene : stay up too late, ditch gadgets in the bedroom, avoid overusing stimulants, and exercise.