One couple sleeping

Sleep is incredibly important to your overall health. Your physical, mental and emotional well-being depends on a good night’s sleep. What if you are unable to get decent rest because of your bed partner’s sleeping tendencies? From snoring to nighttime movement, there are several things a bed partner can do to disrupt sleep. According to a survey, one in three Americans say their partner’s sleep problems negatively impact their quality of sleep.

While high-quality intimacy is something most couples strive for, nightly disturbances are causing them to sleep divorce to get an adequate number of z’s. You may be wondering: what is sleep divorce and is it right for me? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we can give some clarity on whether or not sleep divorce is a proper solution for your needs.

What is Sleep Divorce?

Sleep divorce is the separation of bed partners, married or not, to sleep in different rooms. You may have friends or family who practiced sleep divorce for years, but didn’t have a name for it. Some couples participate in sleep divorce every night, 365 days a year, while others do it for a short time.

Why Sleep Divorce Might Be Right for You

While sleep divorce should be a last-resort option, here are some reasons you may need to sleep in a separate room from your partner from:

You and your partner require different sleep schedules.

You and your partner may need to sleep at different times. Different wakeup and bedtimes can cause interruptions in sleep. Uneven sleep schedules are usually due to a difference in school and work schedules or preference in sleep time. Try to compromise on a time that works for both sides before sleeping separately.

Sleep problems are hurting your relationship.

A lack of sleep can negatively affect your relationships. A study at UC Berkeley found that couples who aren’t getting adequate sleep tend to lash out at their romantic partners. Whenever couples don’t sleep well, they navigate disagreements poorly, resulting in more arguments. If one partner is making sleep difficult for the other, this can cause problems for the relationship.

Sleep problems are affecting your health or safety.

If you or your partner are experiencing an injury or illness, a temporary sleep divorce may be beneficial during the recovery time. Separate sleep will allow the affected individual to rest and heal, unaffected by the other. You or your partner may work a job that requires extreme focus to perform. From driving a truck to operating heavy machinery, getting adequate sleep is critical to their safety as well as others. Temporary sleep divorce may allow for proper rest and workplace performance.

If you decide to opt for a sleep divorce, you must do it for the right reasons. Make sure there is plenty of time for intimacy and bonding as a couple. If the separation is not for your sleep health alone, you may need to consult a counselor or other family resource.

Why Sleep Divorce Might Be Wrong for You

While you may have good reasons to sleep separately from your significant other, here are some reasons you should stick out sleeping together.

You Keep That “Special Bond”

The feeling of closeness developed between you and your partner when sharing a bed isn’t just emotional. The brain produces a chemical called oxytocin, which creates a bond between you and your partner. Oxytocin can also help lower the alertness of the mind, making it easier for you to sleep.

Your Partner Is More Likely to Adhere to Sleep Disorder Treatment

In a study on men with obstructive sleep apnea, researchers found they were more likely to adhere to their treatment when they slept with a partner than men who didn’t. Snoring is one of the most significant causes of sleep divorce. However, if both sides are willing to stick it out through the treatment, the affected partner is more likely to overcome their sleep disorder.

Higher Sleep Satisfaction

Some individuals were found to have lower sleep quality when sleeping separately from their partner. Two studies found a connection to people sleeping better when they were in a stable relationship and were able to sleep with their partner.

Methods to Prevent Sleep Divorce

If you are still on the fence about whether you should take part in a sleep divorce, here are a few tips that may alleviate some sleep problems.

Talk It Out

The first thing you need to do is discuss your problems with your partner. Do this respectfully and gently. Be considerate of their feelings. It can be easy for complaints to be taken personally or as a form of rejection. It needs to be clear that this is about sleep only. After discussing the problem, you may be able to come to a resolution or compromise.

Bedroom Environment Is Key

If the problem is not medical, it could be a disagreement in the bedroom environment preference. Temperature, noise and amount of light can all be points of contention between bedpartners. A dark, quiet and cool bedroom is the ideal setting for optimum sleep. Use separate blankets and a white noise machine to alleviate differences in sound and temperature preference. Any electronics should be removed from the bedroom to promote restfulness.

Consult Your Physician

If you or your bed partner have chronic sleep problems, it may be more than a minor nuisance, but rather, a sleep disorder. An estimated 22 million people in the United States live with sleep apnea, with over half of those cases going undiagnosed. If your partner snores or can’t sleep at night, seeing a doctor may help you continue to sleep together. For insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy may be a viable treatment.

Other Ways to Cope with Snoring

Here are a few tips to help you and your snoring partner get a better night’s sleep:

  • Sleeping on one’s side helps alleviate snoring
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking or eating big meals before sleeping. These behaviors cause the soft palate to collapse against the throat during sleep.
  • Use some form of foam, safe-for-sleep earplugs.

It Comes Down to You

The decision to sleep divorce comes down to you and your partner. The critical thing to remember is that sleep divorce should be used for sleep problems and sleep problems only.

If you or your partner have insomnia, see if Somly’s cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia program can help you today.

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