When you get into bed at night with your other half do you breathe a sigh of relief in anticipation of a lovely rest, or do you grimace at the thought of snoring, late night tweeting and trips to the bathroom keeping you up all night? For many couples, it’s the latter.
A survey carried out in 2005 in America revealed that almost one in four couples sleep in separate beds so they can get a good night’s sleep. While to some this idea may sound extreme, there is no doubt that getting enough sleep is integral to our health.
The British guru of sleep studies, Dr Neil Stanley does not share a bed with his wife and praises the idea of separate beds. In his studies he has discovered that couples suffer from an average of 50% more sleep disturbances if they share a bed.
It has been shown that these kinds of sleep disturbances can affect instances of depression, heart disease, stroke and respiratory failure. It is even disproportionately correlated with divorce.
Not only this, but a lack of sleep can make women put on weight. A study involving 70,000 women showed that those getting five or fewer hours of sleep a night were a third more likely to gain 33lb or more than sound sleepers.
So why did we even start sleeping together in the first place? This cultural development is a fairly recent one, growing from the industrial revolution when families moved to the cities and were short of living space. Even the Romans kept one bed for sex and another separate bed for sleeping.
But what would separate beds do for our relationships? One family therapist expresses concern: “The biggest problem in every couple is disconnection. And this decreases intimacy. It starts with, ‘I’m going to take this kid here and you can take the other one there.” And sleeping in separate beds does involve physical distance, which can lead to emotional distance. “A logical decision in one area has consequences in other areas.”
If you are struggling with sleeping arrangements or any other aspects of your relationship, seeking help from a relationship counsellor could help you get back on track – whether that’s in separate beds or together. For more information, please see our Relationship Issues page.
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