Can separate beds improve your relationship?

Disrupted sleep can leave couples hitting the snooze button

When my boyfriend and I moved in together, we had a verbal agreement: Once every two months, I could kick him out of our bed and he would sleep in our spare room for the night. I know, it’s unorthodox. But I’ve never enjoyed sleeping in the same room as anyone, never mind in the same bed.

I’m a light sleeper. A ticking clock or LED display on the nightstand is enough to keep me awake at night. And my partner has been known to snore from time to time, while his alarm is set 90 minutes ahead of mine on weekday mornings. Don’t even get me started on his need to snooze.

Another condition of our living arrangement was to purchase a king-size bed, to help me get through the 60-something days during that period of sleeping in the same room. Unfortunately, we love the new bed so much that it’s hard to get him to stick to our deal. More than four months later, he hasn’t spent a single night in the double bed down the hall despite my many requests. It’s become the cats’ room, instead.

But I still accrue my boyfriend-free nights. There’s no “use it or lose it” policy in place here. I may never cash them in (I’ve grown to love the heat radiating to my right), but it’s nice to have the option, say, after a particularly spicy curry dinner.

It’s a small compromise that I’ve made. But, should one of us begin working shifts, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the leap to full-time separate bedrooms.

Ryerson University researchers found the practice isn’t uncommon, either. Thirty to 40 percent of couples sleep apart according to a study conducted last summer. This past Tuesday, ABC’s Good Morning America ran a segment on couples who sleep in separate beds. In it, experts say as many as 50 percent of couples hit the sack solo.

And there may be good reason. Other research indicates that, while many believe they sleep better with their partners at their sides, people who sleep as couples suffer 50 percent more disturbances throughout the night than those who sleep separately.

Having lived that reality for several months now, I believe the statistics and that, one day, I’ll probably have my own bedroom again, too.

(Photo courtesy Free Range Stock)