Originally posted on Bustle
When you hear the word “divorce”, it’s natural to jump to the worst possible conclusion, but it turns out, a lot of people would like a divorce with slightly less dramatic effects, aka a sleep divorce. So what is a sleep divorce? It’s having separate sleeping arrangements from your partner — and they’re more popular than you might think. In fact, A 2010 study by the National Sleep Foundation found that almost a quarter of married couples sleep separately,
Mattress Clarity, a sleep product review site, asked 3,000 Floridians about their sleep habits and needs and found out that a whopping 39.1 percent would rather sleep in separate beds than the same bed as their partner. In fact, they found that 10 percent of those surveyed had a relationship end over sleep issues. And it makes sense, because sleep is important for us individually, but also for our relationships.
“Research shows that adults need at least seven hours of sleep,” Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. “When we don’t get enough sleep we tend to be short-tempered, have increased anxiety or mood swings and this can impact your connection with your partner.”
Of course, asking for a sleep divorce can be tricky. A lot of people consider sharing a bed together an integral part of the relationship. So your partner may be resistant to the idea of sleeping in separate beds — they may even be hurt by the idea of it. So if you want a sleep divorce and your partner doesn’t want one, it’s important to tread carefully. Erin Berman, Lifestyle Expert with NECTAR Sleep has some tips on on how to approach your partner about a sleep divorce — and why they work.
1. Explain Why Sleeping Separately (And Well) Will Benefit Your Relationship
A lack of sleep can cause some serious problems, so make sure you explain to your partner what you’re trying to get out of a sleep divorce. “When both partners are sleeping well (even if that means separately) they will get the mental and physical benefits of good sleep and have more energy to dedicated to their passions, goals, dreams, and one another,” Berman tells Bustle. “In fact, a recent study showed that people who slept poorly showed less of a sense of appreciation for their partners. So it is notable that not sleeping well together will have an effect on the health of your relationship, not just your personal well-being. Poor sleep together can contribute a negative effect on feelings of appreciation and gratitude for both partners, leading to resentment, which is a leading cause for divorce. So if a sleep divorce sounds scary — think again, as it could actually save your marriage.” By making it clear that you’re doing it for a reason, it will feel less less like you rejecting them.
2. Be Compassionate
When you talk to them, remember it’s a sensitive topic — and if they respond badly, they might just be self-conscious. “Communicate that this is NOT their fault, as sleep disorders like snoring and insomnia often cause individuals to feel self-conscious and stressed, even though they often can’t control these symptoms,” Berman says. “Let your partner know you believe you could both benefit from sleeping separately and propose a 30-day trial to give yourselves time to see results and ease into the process.” Making it a trial period can help it sound less intimidating.
3. Make Room For Other Quality Time
Sharing a bed is a form of bonding, so you’re going to want to make room for bonding somewhere else if you decide to sleep separately. “Finally, make sure you allocate plenty of time to be affectionate together — whether that is curling up with books together, or watching TV and cuddling,” Berman says. “Ultimately when both partners are getting their best night’s rest, it is likely that the general health of the relationship will improve.”
Sleeping in separate beds might seem like an extreme change, but for some couples, it’s a totally life-saver. Talk to your partner and be sensitive, but also be clear about why a sleep divorce can help both of you. If your health and happiness is at risk, they should understand.