Do you ever blame your spouse for a restless night’s sleep? It turns out that more and more couples are considering a “sleep divorce,” that is, sleeping apart from your partner in another room. According to British sleep specialist, Dr. Neil Stanley, “We sleep better when we sleep alone.” A recent article published in the Toronto Star caught the public’s attention on this divided topic: http://bit.ly/11zbefO
Experts predict that about a quarter of couples in the U.S. have chosen to take a sleep divorce. Moreover, home developers are increasingly designing homes with two master bedrooms. Why is it so hard for some couples to sleep soundly—together? A number of reasons: Firstly, consider the size of the bed. A couple sharing a double bed translates into nine inches less per person than a child in a single bed…Now that’s potential for a problem. Secondly, if one’s partner has a bothersome behaviour during sleep, perhaps snoring loudly, sleep talking or stealing the covers, the other is bound to lose some sleep over it. Another reason is in a couple’s sleep routines. For example, one partner may work late or enjoy staying up late to read or watch television.
The consequences of sleep deprivation include a lengthy list of health problems: diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity to name a few. Studies have also shown that sleep deprived couples show less affection towards each other, and hence it has a negative impact on the relationship. So is a sleep divorce just a practical solution to a common and dangerous problem? There is still some debate among experts, but there’s no doubt that it’s been a successful choice for some couples.
If a sleep divorce seems unfathomable to you, try addressing the key sleep issues:
- If the mattress is the problem, invest in a new mattress that fits your sleep needs and is big enough for both of you to have you own space. Talk to the sales rep about a mattress that minimizes the impact of nighttime movements.
- Compromise on a sleep routine. If one partner is an early bird and the other a night owl, try to agree one some middle ground. Even if it’s only a few night’s a week, it will help.
- Be aware of sleep disorders. Have you ever considered that there may be more to blame for your sleep trouble than your spouse? There could be an underlying, treatable sleep disorder that’s causing snoring, insomnia or daytime fatigue. Talk to your doctor.
- Know the basics of sleep hygiene. Here’s a previous blog post discussing the worst sleep offenders (not including your partner) – https://medsleep.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-top-sleep-offenders-whats-getting-in-the-way-of-your-sleep/
To answer the original question, a sleep divorce could be a practical solution to insomnia amongst couples. Before resorting to a sleep divorce, a better place to start is to look at your sleep routines and overall sleep hygiene. Try to curb sloppy sleep habits and come up with solutions that work for both you and your partner. Never be afraid or ashamed to talk to your doctor about sleep trouble – not only could it save your relationship but it could also save your life.