April 20, 2019


WHY HALF THE POPULATION WOULD WELCOME A SLEEP DIVORCE: Sleeping solo is stigmatized as a sign of a failing relationship, but it might make a lot of sense. (Carly Stern, 4/20/19, Ozy)

Each night, Kelly Kandra Hughes nestles under the weighted blanket of her queen-size bed around 9 pm. She usually reads before her husband, Heath, comes in to chat about their plans for the next day. If it's been a long day, he'll crawl into the bed and run his fingers through her hair. After kissing Kelly goodnight, he turns off the lamp.

When Heath goes to bed a few hours later, he heads into his own bedroom. The couple has been sleeping separately since about seven months into their marriage. Because Kelly has narcolepsy, her husband's nighttime movements disturb her sleep. But recent studies suggest that their situation -- which has been coined a "sleep divorce" -- isn't all that unique. In fact ...

The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by OnePoll, found that 24 percent think sleeping separately can actually improve a relationship -- even though those who slept in the same bed were twice as likely as their non-bed-sharing counterparts to rank their relationship happiness a 10 out of 10.

This isn't just an American phenomenon: In the U.K., 15 percent of Brits surveyed said they prefer to sleep in a different bed than their romantic partner, according to a 2018 YouGov survey of nearly 2,100 British adults. Britain's Sleep Council report found that the percentage of couples who sleep separately at least some of the time increased by 9 percent between 2013 and 2017, while the proportion of couples who always sleep alone rose from 8-12 percent.

"If you've slept in your own bed your entire life, sleeping with somebody else in the same bed is a huge deviation from what you are accustomed to," says Bill Fish, a sleep science coach who co-founded the Tuck Sleep Foundation. Habit formation becomes especially relevant as people marry later. Hughes is one example: She and Heath were 38 and 32 when they married, and she says they'd developed independent routines over decades.

Sleep disturbances, personal preferences and simple logistics play a role. For one, snoring: It's estimated that partners lose up to an hour of sleep every night because of a significant other's snoring. Other seemingly minor disturbances add up, particularly when partners operate on opposite timetables. Colleen Noon and her husband began sleeping solo initially because he was getting up several times a night to care for their infant son, and waking her in the process.

What's more, people increasingly are bringing screens into the bedroom -- but partners may prefer different content, or be unable to fall asleep when they want to. "I had to beg my wife to stop watching ER 10 years ago as I was trying to sleep because it was giving me the worst nightmares," Fish says. On a physical level, blue light from mobile screens has been found to disrupt natural sleep cycles.

The actual numbers are much higher, but folks mistakenly think it reflects poorly on them.
Posted by at April 20, 2019 7:26 AM