**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
I once worked with a woman married to a man who snored. She would arrive at work every day looking worn out and tired due to her husband’s chronic snoring. The lack of sleep started to affect her work performance, plus she was agitated and irritable because she was exhausted all the time.
My coworker eventually scheduled an appointment for her husband to have a sleep study, during which they would determine if he had sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for short periods during the night, and it can cause disruptive snoring.
Unfortunately, my coworker’s husband did not have sleep apnea, but the sleep study confirmed what she already knew — he was a very heavy snorer.
Although he was not diagnosed wth sleep apnea, the doctor still recommended that he try wearing a CPAP mask to help reduce the noise. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine blows air into a mask worn over the face during sleep. The air pressure from the device helps keep the airway open, reducing the instances of snoring.
After my coworker’s husband started using the CPAP machine, she said his snoring was a little quieter. But her husband didn’t like the contraption. He said that the mask was uncomfortable and made it hard for him to sleep through the night.
So, my coworker and her husband found themselves at an impasse. She had tried buying him a wedge pillow to elevate his head in hopes of reducing the snoring. She also tried wearing earplugs to filter out the sound. But nothing was working.
One day she came to work in tears because she was so tired. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” she said. She felt like she had exhausted all the options and didn’t know what to do next.
Her husband was unwilling to wear the CPAP, and she was unwilling to continue losing sleep. He suggested sleeping in separate rooms, but she didn’t want that either. She loved her husband and wanted to be close to him at night.
At the same time, sleeping together in the same bed was not an option because she could not handle the snoring. They couldn’t seem to come to a compromise that worked for both of them.
After doing some research on his own, my coworker’s husband found a small appliance that he could wear in his mouth at night. It worked by holding the tongue in a particular position to avoid falling back and blocking the airway.
The mouth appliance turned out to be the solution they were both looking for. His snoring was significantly reduced, and they could sleep in the same bed again.
Sleeping together is optional
Married couples have not always slept in the same bed. In fact, for much of history, they did not. Before the 1950s, many couples slept in separate beds due to various reasons.
Some people believe that sleeping together is more about companionship than anything else. And for some couples, that may be true. But for others, it’s simply not possible to sleep in the same bed due to snoring or other issues.
The rise in “sleep divorces”
Snoring is the third most common cause of divorce in the United States, according to Sleep Sources. And it’s not just because the noise is disruptive. It’s also because sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of problems, both physically and mentally.
A 2016 study conducted at Paracelsus Private Medical University indicated that relationship problems and sleep issues are often concurrent. A 2012 survey by The Better Sleep Council found 63% of couples slept separately, and one in ten couples reported sleeping in separate bedrooms.
If one spouse is snoring loudly, it can prevent the other spouse from getting a good night’s sleep. And that can lead to relational problems in and out of the bedroom.
The exhausted spouse may be cranky and irritable. Like my coworker, they may have trouble concentrating at work. And they may even start to experience health problems due to the lack of sleep.
It’s not uncommon for people who experience sleep deprivation to become fretful and curt with their partners. The exhausted spouse may not have the energy or patience to deal with their partner’s snoring. And over time, that can lead to resentment and tension in the relationship.
So, if snoring is causing problems in your marriage, you’re not alone. You may be part of a growing trend. Sleep divorces are on the rise, and snoring is one of the most common reasons couples decide to sleep apart.
Separate rooms may not be enough
Sometimes sleeping apart causes more problems than it solves. Communal sleeping among couples is often associated with emotional intimacy and trust. And for some couples, sleeping in separate rooms can be a source of tension and conflict, as was the case for my coworker and her husband.
Consider all the potential implications before deciding if you’re considering a sleep divorce. Sleeping in separate rooms may not solve all your problems, and it may even create new ones.
Working through sleep incompatibility
If you’re struggling to sleep in the same bed as your spouse, there are a few things you can do to try to improve the situation.
The first step is to talk to your spouse about the problem and see if there’s anything they’re willing to do to help mitigate the noise. This may include wearing a mouth guard or sleeping on their side.
You can also try using a white noise machine to help drown out the noise of your spouse’s snoring. And you can invest in a comfy pair of earplugs to help you get through the night.
Finally, you can always try sleeping in separate rooms if all else fails. This may not be ideal, but it may be the only way to get a good night’s sleep. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.
What do you think? Do you think couples should sleep in separate beds? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!