Electric blanket

What is better: Sleeping seperately or together?

25 Nov, 2023
Jürgen Swinnen

In our quest for blissful sleep and a thriving relationship, we often encounter an intriguing question: is sleeping together with your partner always the best choice? Although sharing a bed is often seen as the height of romance, recent trends reveal a different reality. More and more couples are consciously choosing not to sleep in bed together and going to sleep alone. A choice that may be the key to a happier relationship and better sleep.

Back to the roots: sleeping separately throughout history

The image of couples cozily sleeping together is actually a fairly recent phenomenon. In historical times, such as ancient Rome, sleeping separately was the norm for the elite. Sharing a bed was then limited to intimate moments. The nobility and aristocracy, in the great palaces and castles with the countless bedrooms, naturally had an easy time sleeping solo. With the industrial revolution and the move to smaller urban homes, many things changed, with all the pros and cons. More and more people chose to sleep in the same bed.

The ‘Sleep Separation’: a trend on the rise?

In our modern society, we see a growing trend of “sleep separation” or SAT (Sleeping Apart Together) relationships. If you’ve already binged the Netflix hit “The Crown,” you know that the British Queen and her husband also had separate bedrooms. Apparently, Sarah Jessica Parker and Angelina Jolie are also convinced of the SAT relationship.

Sleeping separately literally gives space. Although not everyone goes so far as to never sleep in bed together again. They are more likely to opt for softer separations by providing separate made-up mattresses with two duvets in one, often larger bed. Or they choose to sleep apart temporarily, such as after the birth of baby. That way, at least one of them can lie down alone for some quality sleep.

Sleeping together with two separate duvets and mattresses

About one in four couples, according to an Australian study, prefer to sleep separately to improve sleep quality. But what exactly does this mean for your relationship?

The impact of poor sleep quality on relationships

Poor sleep can have a huge impact on your health and happiness, as well as your relationship. Sleepless nights due to partners who snore or have different sleeping rhythms can lead to irritation and conflict. So isn’t it better to sleep separately to eliminate these sources of frustration? Yes indeed, because sleeping apart does not have to be disastrous for a good relationship at all. So do the results of an Austrian study, according to the BBC.

When you close your eyes, you end up in your own world. In this way, sleep is actually a very intimate moment. You relax, go over your day and find your own way to dreamland. To sleep deeply and recover completely, an undisturbed night’s sleep is necessary. When you share the bed with another person you get to experience each other’s sleeping habits, sounds and movements. The important phase in which you process events and emotions may be interrupted. If you are regularly brought out of your deep sleep by another person, sleeping separately can figuratively feel like a liberation.

Reasons for sleeping separately

Different sleep preferences, snoring, crying babies, poorly sleeping children, different sleep rhythms and even sleep disorders can be good reasons to sleep separately. This really doesn’t have to be a taboo subject all the time. And even younger couples appear to find sleeping alone not a crazy idea at all.

Certain, stricter religious beliefs, allow limited or no sleeping together of partners. So in that case, people have little or no choice but to sleep separately.

But the key question remains: what does sleeping separately mean for intimacy and connection in a relationship?

Communication and agreements: key to success

Sleeping separately can be beneficial for both of you, provided good communication and arrangements are made. It’s about finding a solution together that works. Consider creating separate sleeping areas or scheduling moments for intimacy and companionship. A lot of couples then choose to first go over the day together in bed, cuddle and then disappear to sleep in their own beds. Those who have slept well are often a more pleasant partner as well and often sit down to breakfast more cheerfully.

If you potentially disrupt each other’s sleep less and you both manage to sleep better, sleeping in one bed may be a small sacrifice. Although, of course, you also have to have room for it. A guest room or extra bedroom is often easier to organize if you don’t have children or if they are out of the house. You can stay more faithful to your own sleep rhythm. Then when you have to get up at night to visit the restroom or to have a sip of water you don’t disturb your bed partner. During vacations, this is a little less easy to maintain. You’re probably not going to book separate hotel rooms each time, right? Discuss this issue realistically and, above all, speak very clearly to each other about why it appears that sleeping together is not working for you as a couple.

The benefits of sleeping together

Of course, sleeping together also has its advantages. Physical contact leads to the production of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” which promotes a sense of connection and well-being. Some couples have become accustomed to dozing off spoon by spoon each night. Sleeping together can also be part of a sleep routine. A touch, a kiss, literally feeling each other,…. it can be very relaxing for people sleeping together. So, if there are no major sleep problems, sleeping together can actually contribute to a closer relationship.

Small solutions like earplugs to block out noise, separate mattresses to feel each other’s movements a little less and separate duvets can be ideal interim solutions to still stay in bed together.

Also read: do you sleep better when a pet sleeps in bed with you?

Conclusion: finding balance for a happy relationship

The bottom line is that a good night’s sleep is essential. And so is a happy and healthy relationship. Whether you choose to sleep together or separately, the most important thing is to find a balance that works for both of you. That way you both stay fresh and rested and find in each other a loving partner.