A woman took to Mumsnet, an internet forum for parents, to declare that she hasn't slept better since she left the bed she once shared with her husband. She now sleeps in her son's room on a fold-out couch. Instead of waking up all night to various disturbances from her husband, she sleeps soundly. No more listening to her husband's snoring, enduring his fidgeting in bed, or freezing from the cold draft from the window he likes to keep open.
She calls sleeping apart from her husband “heaven” and says that instead of damaging their relationship, it's made it stronger.
Comments from other Mumsnet users poured in to show their support. One user said, "Good night sleep leads to a happy marriage. Bad night sleep leads to a lot of fighting."
And yet, the common belief is that sleeping in separate beds will only hurt a couple's relationship. Many think that sleeping separately is the beginning of the end of a marriage.
Not only that, sleeping separately from your spouse has been shown to actually be detrimental to your ability to get a good night's sleep. A recent study conducted by the University of Arizona found that adults who share a bed with their spouse sleep better than those who sleep alone.
But a lot of married couples are calling foul, saying this simply isn't true.
Couples are happily getting "sleep divorces."
According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 12% of married couples have gotten a “sleep divorce.” This means they sleep in separate bedrooms at night.
Carson Daly, a long-time television host, and his wife Siri are the first celebrities to popularize the term sleep divorce. Daly claims it's the best thing that has happened to his marriage.
After the birth of their fourth baby together in 2019, the couple was finding it hard to get a good night's sleep. They started sleeping separately and both their sleep quality and their relationship greatly improved.
Daly has since softened the term “sleep divorce,” preferring to call it a "sleep separation." It’s unknown whether they ever plan to sleep in the same bed again.
But experts say it's not necessary to ever go back to sleeping together. It's simply not necessary for a happy marriage.
In fact, not being cranky and drained in the morning can actually be better for a relationship.
Experts claim there's no evidence that sleeping apart is bad for a marriage.
Licensed marriage and family therapist Laurel Roberts-Meese told Fatherly that forcing yourself to sleep in the same bed with your partner even if means a bad night's sleep is what's actually bad for a marriage.
“If you insist on sleeping in the same bed because you believe doing otherwise means your relationship is in trouble, and the result is both of you are more tired and irritable, you might actually cause more conflict and disconnect,” she said.
She also doesn't believe there's any evidence that sleeping in the same bed "creates closeness and intimacy that can’t otherwise be cultivated.”
Spending time together doing other things during your waking hours is enough to keep a couple close.
Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh, agrees with Roberts-Meese‘s assessment. Troxel also told Fatherly that sleep-deprived partners show less empathy toward each other. They're also less able to read each other's emotions.
“And being able to read what your partner is telling you, emotionally, is a really important skill in a relationship," Troxel said.
Still, the wife from Mumsnet said the plan has always been to begin sleeping in the same bed with her husband again. And yet, she also wonders why she should give up a "glorious" night of sleep that appears to be helping her marriage.
Based on the overflow of messages from other people supporting her sleep divorce, many feel the same way.
What do you think? Do you think getting a sleep divorce is okay? Can sleeping separately actually be good for a relationship? Let me know in the comments.