Are couples who sleep apart really better off?

About 30 to 40 % of couples sleep apart, according to recent surveys led by Ryerson University. The surveys suggest that there could be some benefits to sleeping apart, especially among couples who sleep apart because of disturbances like snoring and movement.

© The Falcondale via Flickr

© The Falcondale via Flickr

Colleen Carney, Director of Ryerson’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory, explained that sleeping apart could improve relationships and that it may even provide couples with the opportunity to rekindle a connection if there’s been trouble in the relationship.

Often, couples choose to sleep apart to resolve issues related to comfort. If your partner snores or likes the temperature colder than you prefer, your quality of sleep can be disrupted. Sleeping apart can be seen as a simple solution to sound or movement-related discomfort during sleep.

But are you and your partner really better off sleeping in separate bedrooms?

As a psychotherapist, I have seen that sleeping apart can sometimes lead to problems. Sleeping with the person we love is a sacred act that we only really do with them. It’s special and can add depth in our relationship. When we sleep, we’re vulnerable. There is something special about waking up beside the person you love.

In my practice, I’ve noticed that sleeping apart can be a sign of distance in some relationships. I had a client who told me that her parents slept apart, and when they divorced she realized it was a red flag.

Sleeping apart can be an indication of one of two things; there is already tension and distance in the relationship, or there is simply physical discomfort in sleeping together.

If there is physical discomfort in sleeping together, communicate it to your partner before getting into the habit of sleeping in another bedroom. You can meet each other half way with things like room temperature, and there are solutions to snoring and nighttime movement. Try to cultivate a sleep environment that works for both of your needs so you can share this scared time together.

If your partner is in the other bedroom while you lay in bed at the end of your day, ask yourself why. Is there anything you can do to create that closeness again? When we sleep together we are the first person the other sees, and we get to cuddle and start the day with their presence. Try a night or two of sleeping together again and see how this translates into the rest of your relationship.


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