My husband and I have been married for almost five years now, together for eight. But we don’t sleep in the same bed.
We used to. I remember thinking I was so lucky because he didn’t snore! We were able to sleep comfortably next to each other and we didn’t keep each other up at night.
However, after we had our son, it became clear we needed to make some sleep changes in order to regain happiness in our lives.
Changes in Sleeping Habits
It started when our son started to go through sleep regressions. You know the ones – 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc. Whenever those started happening, I would sleep upstairs in our guest bedroom, across from our son’s room (our bedroom is on the first floor). I’d eventually move back to our bedroom after each regression ended, but as life went on, things started to change. My husband started weightlifting, and him bulking up seemed to correlate with him starting to snore. I had also started to snore during my pregnancy, and that seemed to be something that stuck after I gave birth.
But besides snoring, we both somehow had become light, restless sleepers. If one of us got up to use the bathroom, the other would wake up. One of us tossing and turning even kept the other up.
Our son was a great sleeper and it seemed so cruel and ironic that we weren’t getting good sleep ourselves. I slept in the guest room during the sleep regressions anyways, so I simply told my husband we should try sleeping separately to see if we felt more rested.
Living with a Sleep Divorce
Of course, we did – the best sleep anyone can have is by themselves, according to experts. And while we felt strange going to different bedrooms at night, we weren’t resentful or frustrated that we weren’t sleeping well, and that was the whole point of sleeping separately.
Did I worry about how we’d vacation as a family? Yes! I worried that we’d have to book an extra room to ensure we’d all be able to sleep. But we’ve actually taken vacations and staycations since our sleep divorce where we’ve been able to share a bed with few issues. Both of us still snore, and one or both of us still has to hit the snorer to get them to stop, but it seems less intrusive than when we’re at our house. Maybe it’s the fact that vacations are short, so it’s easier to deal with. Maybe it’s because we don’t have any pressuring thoughts like, “I hope we both get enough sleep – I have to get up early tomorrow!” Concentrating on thoughts like those usually have the opposite effect on our sleep.
Now, before anyone jumps in with, “No wonder you only have one child – you have a sleep divorce!” We still have sex – we just retire to different rooms afterward. We have one child by choice.
Communicate Your Needs
There’s a lot of stigma around the idea that if you’re not sharing a bed, something is wrong with your marriage, but this doesn’t mean you’ll lose your connection with your spouse. This might sound like a “duh” statement, but when we’re awake, my husband and I connect best with each other. When we did sleep in the same bed, I wouldn’t have called that “bonding.” We carve out time for each other, eating dinner together after our toddler is in bed, and snuggle on the couch while watching TV, keeping our connection alive.
Sleep divorce can look different for each family, too, depending on your space and needs. It could be sleeping in two separate beds but in the same room. It could be sleeping in completely separate bedrooms.
As with anything pertaining to your marriage, communication is key. Be honest with your partner – and yourself – about what you need.