I've been married. I'm divorced. And I'm lucky enough to have fallen in love again. I love the guy. I really do. But, however hard I try, I can't share a bed with him.
It's a taboo topic. Surely, if you're bang in love (and banging), sharing a bed is normal. And if you don't, your relationship must be flawed.
Yet, I know I'm not alone ... well, apart from when I'm in bed at night which I absolutely love. There are lots of women who have found Mr Right. They are committed couples. Some even married. But they have separate bedrooms. At the very least, separate beds.
And I get it!
In this article, I talk about:
- Reasons couples might choose to sleep separately
- Why it doesn't mean they're not committed (quite the opposite actually)
- How sleeping separately can help a relationship
- How to broach the topic if you can't share a bed with your partner
Reasons couples might choose to sleep separately
Every relationship is unique and we all have personal (sometimes strange) sleeping habits. For this reason, there are heaps of reasons couples might choose to sleep separately.
Below are ten good reasons that come to mind when I think of sharing my bed.
But the truth is, you don't need a reason. If sleeping together as a couple doesn't work for you, don't do it.
It doesn't mean you don't love one another and don't have a great sex life. It just means you don't want to lie comatose in a three-metre square space for eight hours and wake up breathing dog breath on one another.
I'm so over sharing my bed
I've been a party animal and shared beds with unknowns. I've been married and shared a bed with my husband. I've been a single mum and my kids decided that, you guessed it, they would share my bed with me.
Surely, at this point in my life, I am entitled to have a bed all to myself?
I am a veteran bed sharer. Now retired.
He snores, you snore, I snore (do I?!)
This comes up on our FB group a lot. It has to be the main reason couples choose to sleep apart.
Have you noticed that snoring wasn't a problem in our younger years, but it is now? There's a reason for that. It is because as we age, our tongues and airway muscles weaken, which can cause snoring.
If you have a snoring partner, I don't have to tell you how annoying it is. But it's not just irritating. According to The Sleep Foundation:
"95% of snorers disrupt their partner's sleep. The average snorer's partner loses more than an hour of sleep every night. This illustrates that snoring is not just a problem for the snorer but for others as well – and the implications include negative impacts on their focus, mood, performance, libido, and general health, not to mention causing resentment and conflict within the relationship."
The fart issue
Alongside snoring comes the flatulence. Dear lord!
And it's not just him.
As I approach 50, I already have my fair share of bloating. The last thing I want is to hold in gas and allow extra air to be stored in my intestines and stomach. It needs to come out.
I guess I'm just more comfortable expending excess air alone, while avoiding the firing line of others.
He hogs the covers
Couples who sleep separately have the luxury of hogging the bed covers without reprimand.
I don't want to wake in the night with a 5-square-inch piece of cover to warm my ever-increasing size.
Neither do I want to wake up in the morning to my partner complaining that I hogged the covers (of course, I never do).
I'm with the Germans here who have two doonas (duvets). So one each, even when sharing a bed.
I'm menopausal and bloody hot
Let's talk about menopausal night sweats (which also happen during perimenopause).
Night sweats can occur for many years; you will want to be alone when they do. Body heat from a human in close proximity is no friend to hot flashes.
When night sweats hit, I throw off the covers, turn on the fan, grab an ice pack from the freezer, and moan for a bit.
All of which is more comfortably done alone.
Further reading: What menopause symptoms can be treated with supplements?
My kids are in the other room
If you have re-partnered while your (or his) kids are still young, you might also have little people sleeping in the house.
I can't share a bed with another man in this situation. It can confuse the kids, and you never know when you might be disturbed. Or, as often happens, have another body in the bed.
It just never felt right and I would insist on sleeping separately.
We have different schedules
My current partner starts work at 6am, meaning he gets up at 4.30am, eeck. Whereas I stagger to my work-from-home desk at about 9am.
The difference in these morning start times affects going to bed as well. He goes to bed early. I go to bed late.
This means we have no quality time in bed. We literally sleep there together. For this reason, there is little to lose if we choose to sleep apart.
I'm a light sleeper
I remember the days I'd sleep anywhere.
Not so anymore.
I need all the stars to align for a good night's sleep. Complete darkness, absolute silence, the perfect temperate, the right headspace, and the pillows positioned just so.
We light sleepers can't share a bed in case we upset the balance.
Further reading: 7 Secrets for a damn good nights sleep.
I don't feel sexy in my curlers and hairnet
Once I've slathered on my night cream and put in my mouthguard (for grinding), I ain't feeling sexy.
Nowadays, going to bed has a particular ritual, and it doesn't involve a slinky nightie.
And, if I'm concerned about how I look when I go to bed, the morning is a whole other issue.
For me, sleepy, groggy mornings are alone time. Ideally, I don't want to be seen by anyone until after my first coffee.
Sleepwalking, talking, and fidgeting
I once woke up to a partner sitting upright in bed reciting the contents of his work store cupboard. It was the final straw for me. Not only is it annoying but it's damn-right creepy.
People do all sorts of things in their sleep. Talking bollocks to sharing their deepest secrets you don't want to be party to. Shouting, screaming, flailing around. Twitching or fidgeting all night.
I'm not a great fan of this behaviour during the day. When it happens at night it's a determining reason why I can't share a bed.
Plus, I don't want a spectator if I start doing this stuff in my sleep.
Why sleeping apart doesn't mean you're not committed
It's interesting to know that it hasn't always been a 'thing' for couples to sleep together.
In the Victorian era, it was considered unhygienic and disgusting to share a bed, therefore couples would sleep separately. That was unless they couldn't afford it, in which cases they would grin and bear the same mattress together.
We'd still be sleeping peacefully in our own spaces now if it wasn't for the sexual revolution of the 1960s which brought about the belief that couples 'should' sleep together.
It really doesn't matter if you're a clean-freak Victorian or a sex-loving 60s hippy, sleeping together is way down the list of what it means to be in a committed relationship.
A committed relationship includes things such as:
- Being open and honest with one another
- Respecting and listening to one another
- Working through problems together
- Planning a future together
For an increasing number of couples, sleep arrangements don't feature on this list. And if it does, it's near the bottom or on the other side of the page.
My partner snores like a trooper and I'm a light sleeper who loves my own bed space for all the reasons listed above.
When I broached him about sleeping separately, he was super supportive. It wasn't what he wanted (he could sleep through a jet plane low-flying over the bed). But he got it. He gives me his bed when I sleep over and he sleeps in the spare room. For me, this is a sign of someone who is committed to a relationship with the aim of making it work long-term.
Choosing to sleep separately signifies that a couple can shy from the norm and make practical decisions which helps them function and feel better. It shows confidence in their love for one another. Their commitment does not need to be proved by countless fidgety, flatulence-filled sleepless nights together.
Megan Kozak and the team at Lighthouse Relationships share great advice for couples who can't share a bed:
"The key in making sleeping separately a healthy habit for a relationship is ensuring that the couple maintain rituals of connection with each other, like a goodnight kiss, sharing about the day, or enjoying time together reading, watching something or talking. Separate beds do not need to result in less connection - often the connection just needs to be a little more intentional."
How sleeping separately can actually help a relationship
Besides the obvious (better sleep and waking refreshed, ready to take on the day ahead), sleeping separately has many benefits.
Bayu Prihandito from Life Architekture points out:
"When couples sleep separately occasionally, it can create a sense of anticipation and excitement for the times they do share a bed or intimate moments. It creates opportunities for more intentional and quality time together, making moments of connection and intimacy more meaningful."
I have found sleeping separately boosts my sexual desire and that of my partner. We no longer associate being in bed together as a time of sweaty, sheet-pulling slumber. Instead, it's a place of intimacy and sexual enjoyment. We sometimes fall asleep cuddled in each other's arms while in bed, and we love those moments. They are especially nice when one of us wakes and slinks off to another bed, leaving us both free to get some serious sleep.
Are you thinking of sleeping separately?
If you're in a good relationship but can't share a bed, I urge you to discuss this with your partner.
Highlight the many benefits of not sharing a bed as outlined in this article. Point out how they can improve your mental and physical health, lifestyle, and relationship.
Tell your partner that although you can't share a bed with them, you still totally love them. Because, when you seriously think about it, there is no correlation between bed sharing and loving. Your aim is to make bed time together more enjoyable when it does happen.
Remember, sleeping apart is not a sign of a flawed relationship. Instead, it signifies a relationship in which you are both confident and comfortable enough to make decisions that benefit you as humans and as a couple.
Oh, and one more tip: If you're going to eat toast in bed together, do it in their bed. There is nothing worse than breadcrumbs on the sheets.