An increasing number of us are choosing to sleep alone.
In fact, a recent survey has revealed that as many as 1 in 6 British couples or 15% now sleep apart, with 89% of them choosing to sleep in separate rooms. And yet this decision is often viewed as a betrayal of our relationship, being sometimes referred to as Sleep Divorce.
Is it so bad if you prefer to sleep alone?
When 90% of adults say they don’t get enough sleep, and stress and sleep-related issues last year cost UK businesses £40 billion (in absenteeism, poor performance, accidents), it’s important not to underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep.
And it’s not to do with the number of hours you spend in bed trying to get to sleep. It’s the quality of the sleep itself that benefits us in terms of supporting our health and wellbeing. So, disturbed, restless or fitful sleep is going to result in an unrested start to the day.
It’s important to address as many factors as possible to improve the quality of your sleep, and if doing so impacts on your sleeping arrangements you may need to determine which will best benefit your health, wellbeing and the overall quality of your relationship.
Sleeping with someone who has health issues which cause them to sleep badly can cause major disturbance to their partner. This may ultimately justify their moving to individual beds, if not separate bedrooms. Someone who regularly snores, who gets up frequently in the night or who tosses and turns can really disrupt their partner’s ability to sleep.
On a practical level, having a partner who operates on a different body clock and goes to bed earlier or later, who works antisocial shift patterns or who is perhaps the agreed carer for a newborn baby may be reasons to negotiate more flexible sleeping arrangements, perhaps on a temporary basis. One person may prefer the bedroom cool, the mattress firmer or be a duvet hogger. Some of these preferences can be fairly easily resolved but others may cause ongoing tension, irritation and even rows.
If you do reach the decision to sleep apart, agree to spend quality time together as often as possible. There’s no need for intimacy and closeness to suffer and it’s often the case that the times you do spend together become better-humoured, more fun and less stressful after a good night’s sleep.
Decide which evenings or early mornings could become personal us time; there may be one or two evenings a week where you commit to using the bedroom for catching up, chatting and being together. Weekends may provide the opportunity for special personal time too. Ensure that the times you do spend together are about communicating, sharing thoughts and feelings and reinforcing your bond. Keep the bedroom as ‘our oasis’, especially when you’re not regularly sleeping together.
And consider some proactive things which may be able to be introduced to help. Snoring may be alleviated by losing a little weight, drinking less alcohol, exercising more and improving the quality of your breathing. Being stressed and having a lot on your mind can also cause restless sleep. Discuss ways to better manage your stressful areas more effectively, which then improves the overall quality of your relationship, life and sleep.
Health issues and associated medication can disrupt sleep patterns, sometimes even causing insomnia. If you suspect that that’s the case book a medical check-up and discuss options with your family doctor. Simple adjustments can make major improvements.
Sleeping arrangements are a personal matter and don’t necessarily define the state of your relationship. If you choose to sleep in separate beds or bedrooms it’s not the end of the world. That decision may, in fact, result in you feeling better, being able to dedicate more thoughtful effort to your relationship and ultimately improve its overall quality.
Get a good night’s sleep and feel better in every area of your life!
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer and media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s author of three books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon and with easy-to-read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net