It’s now officially a substantial trend: a study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 25 percent of couples sleep in separate rooms. That’s one in four couples! Many who choose to sleep separately are reluctant to discuss it, but for most people, the decision to sleep in separate beds is a practical decision. It seems that sleep is elusive when you bed down with a partner who snores, tosses relentlessly, traipses to the restroom repeatedly, hogs the covers or is drenched in sweat each night.
One partner often retreats to a guest room, kid’s bed or the family room sofa while hoping that people won’t assume the worst about their relationship. By 2015, The National Association of Home Builders says that it expects 60 percent of custom-built homes to include dual master bedrooms for this exact reason. “It’s important for couples facing these issues to try their best to avoid being influenced by negative social stigma and [others’] judgment around sleeping apart and be as creative and innovative in finding solutions that work for them,” says Manhattan psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona. And while sleeping in separate beds may solve some issues, it’s not always a perfect solution. Sleeping separately may mean you’re both getting better rest, but will it chip away at the romance or take a toll on overall intimacy? Some folks think that sleeping apart robs a marriage of its special connection.
Here’s how couples can combat living as roomies and keep close, cozy and connected even if they sleep in different beds:
1. Stay touchy-feely with each other. Even when couples don’t hold each other all night long, a lot of touching goes on while you’re falling asleep. Touch enhances the sense of intimacy and it also has a measurable biological effect: it stimulates the production of oxytocin, the hormone that deepens human bonding.
2. Engage in pillow talk. You may have lots of focused conversations about your kids, the car, work and the dog, but there’s also intimacy in the kind of pillow talk couples engage in as they relax before falling asleep. Good marriages thrive on these private, unplanned conversations that may vanish when you start sleeping separately.
3. Plan your romps between the sheets together. If you’re not snoozing together, you might end up having less sex. But psychologists say that many couples’ sex lives are enhanced by sleeping in separate rooms — in fact, it can even lead to greater desire for a partner or more frequent sexual encounters.
4. Find other ways to sustain your emotional connection. It’s easy for any couple to get caught up in the daily grind and take each other for granted. If you’re not sharing a bed nightly, it may be even easier to miss each other’s cues for connecting emotionally.