Ever hear of Sleep divorce? Well, currently for many a good night’s sleep is a challenging task and the feeling of restlessness in the pandemic has added to it. A Kaiser Family Foundation study discovered that 36% of Americans reported difficulty sleeping due to pandemic stress.
Thus, currently, the concept of sleep divorce is proving useful where couples decide to adopt individual sleeping arrangements which could be either separate beds, different sleep times, or entirely different rooms. In the case of couples who are working home together, sleep divorce i.e. sleeping in separate beds or rooms is doing wonders, as stated by Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioural and Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation,
Speaking to HuffPost, she said, “Given the extra ‘togetherness’ we have been sharing with our family during extended stay-at-home orders, sleeping apart, at least temporarily, during COVID may also benefit some couples who are just feeling starved for some alone time.”
“The key, though, is making this decision as a couple and making it clear that the decision is for the benefit of your relationship, not a sign of abandonment,” she added.
A 2016 study found that sleep issues and relationship problems occur hand in hand, and another 2013 study states that couples often engage in conflict the next day when one of the partners experiences a bad sleep schedule due to the nighttime activities of the other.
Jennifer Adams, the author of Sleeping Apart Not Falling Apart, revealed that she and her husband of 15 years sleep in separate rooms. She said, “Hundreds of thousands of couples are heading to separate rooms each night and enjoying a full life, and great relationships because they get a good night's sleep each night.”
Adams also recalled that her husband is an earlier riser, while Adams is a night owl. “I would head to bed and want to read when he was asleep and had to get up early in the morning for his job and then when he wakes in the morning, gets up and dressed, and ready for work, he would wake me,” she recounted.
“As soon as you are getting the sleep you need, I can almost guarantee the relationship will flourish because you won't be sleep-deprived,” she says. “Feelings of resentment that build from lying awake each or most nights are destructive for a relationship and dealing with those feelings of resentment when sleep-deprived is not recommended”, she added.
Sleep divorce is often associated with an idea of a relationship going downhill and losing its closeness. Well, honestly for any individual a little space for your own self can do wonders and reduce conflict when you realize that when you rest separately you rest better. This is so also backed up by research that proves that good sleep induces better communication which is crucial for sustaining healthy, long-lasting relationships.
Troxel stated, “There are just times when strategically, it makes sense for a couple to ‘divide and conquer’ by sleeping apart, so at least one partner gets some much-needed shut-eye.”
Talking about distressed parents with newborns, she said, “giving each partner an occasional break to spend the night in a separate room while the other parent takes on infant caregiving duties for the night is a great way to ensure that both parents don’t become chronically sleep-deprived.”
A constant question associated with the promising idea of sleep separation is that will the sex lives of couples be hampered when sleeping in separate rooms?
A Colorado woman Raquel Fuqua who decided to practice “sleep divorce” with her boyfriend over the summer due to incompatible sleep habits said that it is never the case.
“I think sleeping apart allows us to decide when we want to cuddle ― we just get into the other’s bed,” she said. “Sleeping in separate beds has increased and improved our sex lives”, she adds. Thus, the nightly absence adds to the intimacy in the morning.
Fuqua, further says, “We do wake up missing each other because you’re not rubbing upon them all night.” “It makes you crave physical affection a little more, especially in the mornings. We both work opposite work schedules so this works for us.”
Sujay Kansagra, who is an associate professor at Duke University Medical Center confirms that intimacy is not affected by arrangements that just allow an individual to enjoy better sleep.
He says, “Really, beds should be used for only two things — sleep and sex.”
“When you walk into your bedroom, your mind should start focusing on sleep or intimacy and not on things like work or watching TV.”
“If you recognize that, it can help maintain intimacy as a priority in the bedroom, should you go forward with a “sleep divorce,” Kansagra adds.
It is important to comprehend that healthy sleep is a way to adopt healthy living lifestyles.
Dr Natalie D. Dautovic, the spokesperson of The National Sleep Foundation Natalie D. Dautovich, remarks, “Among many other functions, healthy sleep is important for healing and repairing the heart and blood vessels, reducing risk for obesity, promoting healthy cognitive functioning, and promoting a healthy immune response.”