Most of us can agree that there’s nothing worse than living with a partner that snores like a freight train and keeps you tossing and turning into the early hours of the morning, and if you’re constantly moving your pillow to the sofa so you can get some undisturbed sleep – it seems you’re not alone.

A new trend, originating in the US, is seeing couples undertake what’s being dubbed a ‘sleep divorce’ – where partners bed down for the night in separate bedrooms.

Is sleeping in separate beds a good idea?

While the thought of permanently sleeping in a different room from your other half may seem like an indicator for relationship trouble, experts say that it could actually be a good thing.

Recommended: How to calculate your sleep score to help you get a perfect night’s sleep.

Sleeping in separate beds as a couple can help improve sleep quality
Sleeping in separate beds as a couple can help improve sleep quality.

“I have done a lot of research on this subject, and I always get asked by clients whether sleeping separately to their partner would be hugely beneficial. My answer is ‘yes’ – as your partner can often be the cause of a bad night’s sleep,” says sleep expert Joy Richards, speaking on behalf of Happy Beds.

“I think there is a stigma behind couples sleeping separately, with many suggesting it is a sign that a permanent separation is on the way, but if anything, it probably helps a relationship build as your mood will be improved throughout the day.

“You won’t be able to blame your partner for keeping you awake with their tossing, turning or snoring.”

She adds: “I think this stigma needs to be addressed, as sleep divorce is extremely common in the UK, but you often think the worst when you hear that a couple sleep separately.”

Recommended: Sleeping position guide – what’s the best sleep position for your health?

How lack of sleep can harm your health

Richards notes that lack of sleep can negatively affect your health. Regularly falling short of enough kip can raise your risk of serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes and depression. A bad night’s sleep can also affect your productivity at work, make you irritable and, ultimately, cause tensions in your relationships during the daytime.

In fact, a study from the University of California, Berkeley, found that over time, sleep deprivation can leave couples “too tired to say thanks” and can make one or the other partner feel unappreciated.

If one partner keeps the other awake with snoring you might consider sleeping apart.
If one partner keeps the other awake with snoring you might consider sleeping apart.

It’s no wonder then, that the trend for solo sleep is growing. According to a recent survey by Mattress Online, a quarter of people would now consider sleeping in a separate bed to their partner for a good night’s sleep.

When do couples start sleeping in separate beds?

It seems that 11 years together is the breaking point for most couples, with the retailer reporting that 66% of couples call for a sleep divorce after their 10 year anniversary.

As well as snoring, disagreements over room temperature, duvet hogging, sleep talking and insomnia can all be impetus for a couple to seek a sleep divorce over time. A third of couples surveyed didn’t go to bed at the same time as their partner, which can lead to incompatibility with each other’s sleep cycles – especially over an extended period of time.

Young woman sleeping, side view, candid style image
Getty Images/iStockphoto

How to raise the issue of sleeping in separate beds

So if you’re thinking a sleep divorce might be the solution for you, what’s the best way to broach the subject with your partner?

“If you’re worried about getting enough sleep, don’t be ashamed to negotiate sleeping separately,” says sleep expert Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, on behalf of Silentnight.

“This needs to be navigated carefully, and both sides need to adopt a strategy that they both agree on.

“The key is to communicate without blame and shame. Make sure that whilst doing this, there is plenty of care given to building and maintaining intimacy in the relationship.”

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