Time for a Sleep Divorce

Can’t Sleep? You Could Try a Sleep Divorce.

It might be time for a sleep divorce

You like a firm mattress. He prefers a pillow top. You stick to your share of the comforter. She monopolizes it like a zero-sum game. If these or other nighttime disturbances and sleep differences are keeping you awake, it might be time to consider a sleep divorce.

So, What Is a Sleep Divorce?

It’s not as dramatic as it sounds. A sleep divorce just means you’ve agreed to sleep in separate spaces for the sake of getting deeper, more healthy sleep. And it’s surprisingly common. According to our research, more than 25% of couples are opting for this arrangement. For some, that might mean moving into individual beds in the same room; for others, it could mean sleeping in different rooms to maximize those 40 winks.

Isn’t That Going a Little Too Far?

Think Lucy and Ricky Ricardo slept in matching twin beds because of strict network television censorship alone? Think again. Believe it or not, as recently as the 1960s nodding off in separate beds was considered in vogue. And if that seems strange, consider that prior to modern times whole families and often their livestock would hit the hay in one place to stay warm and conserve space. Throughout the eras, whatever worked best seems to have been the rule of thumb.

Danger: Snoring May Lead to Separation

Hoping your love alone will get you through the night? Studies show that over time the benefits of sleeping together can turn negative if healthy sleep is sacrificed. A 2016 study conducted by Paracelsus Private Medical University in Nuremberg, Germany found that sleep issues and relationship problems tend to happen at the same time. Chainsaw snoring that keeps one person up won’t be easily forgiven and forgotten the next morning. Even seemingly smaller incompatibilities like amount of lighting, mismatched schedules or temperature preferences can build up resentment and lead to conflict.

Good, Quality Sleep Matters

That animosity isn’t unfounded. We all need good sleep to be at our best. Deep, restorative sleep is essential for short-term and long-term health. When we sleep well at night, our body gets to work healing and repairing itself, promoting healthy cognitive functioning and bolstering and supporting our immunity. Without it, a host of issues can emerge. Poor sleep and sleep deprivation can lead to lowered immunity, depression, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, emotional health issues and even car accidents.

Heading to Sleep Splitsville

No matter what you decide, it’s important that you’re both happy with the situation and feel respected. If you decide to pursue a bedroom breakup, try following the points below:

  • Find time to communicate your needs with your partner in a caring and honest way.
  • Avoid feelings of rejection by being intentional about creating times for intimacy and connection outside of nocturnal hours.
  • Keep your rooms or beds open to visitation.
  • Schedule nights together when you don’t have work or other pressures in the morning.

The Bottom Line

If you’re still on the fence, consider taking smaller steps instead.

  • Make your room a sanctuary with limited distractions like cell phones, work or TV.
  • Earplugs and a sleeping mask can minimize snoring and light disturbances. A white noise machine or fan can help too.
  • If you’re in need of a new mattress, there are simple steps you can take to find the one of your dreams!
  • You might be sleeping apart every night, but a sleep divorce shouldn’t impact your sex life! Remember to still make time for intimacy between you and your partner.
  • And maybe most importantly, schedule bedtimes to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night for adults.

You might be surprised at the big results these small changes can bring.

Breaking up in bed could be the answer to a better night’s sleep and a better relationship. Learn why from @BetterSleepOrg.


This blog provides general information about sleep and sleep products. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified heath care professional. This blog should not be construed as medical advice or used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care professional. This blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health or the health of others. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or elsewhere on bettersleep.org. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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