Sleep Divorce

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Recently a new concept has been doing its rounds, called Sleep Divorce. What is Sleep divorce, you may ask; It’s when individuals choose to sleep in separate bedrooms. According to various studies from Toronto and the U.S National sleep foundation, nearly one in four couples sleep in separate beds or bedrooms. Why you may ask would a couple choose such an option? Lets start with sleep and why is it important and then make our way as to why this happens.

Sleep is an important component for a healthy life and without it, individuals are more prone to stress and other medical conditions. A good quality sleep is vitally important for our mental as well as our physical health as we need to give our mind and body time to properly rest and repair, and only quality sleep can provide this adequately.

Here are a few reasons why individuals choose to sleep separately:

  • Different schedules- early sleepers and night owls don’t connect. Night owls may prefer to watch TV or work on their laptop etc. whilst early sleepers value the extra hours.
  • Disrupted sleep- this is due to snoring, tossing and turning and insomnia
  •  Poor sleep equipment- hard/soft mattress, poor pillows, a room that’s too bright, too warm, too cold

There are many issues when it comes to taking a decision as to whether to go to separate rooms or not. The norm has always been that you sleep in the same bed as your partner and anything deviating from the norm can raise questions within the mind of the individual who isn’t really invested in the idea. Psychologically, sharing a bed, translates to feeling connected; emotionally, physically and spiritually to your partner. This closeness is engaged through the senses and when both partners connect on this level, it becomes a challenge to disconnect even though the ideal solution would be to take separate places of rest. If a couple is secure, and emotionally stable with one another, then communication is open, honest and transparent. Its only in this place can a couple really communicate what they need. So, Couples who have healthy relationships and are aware that their partners sleep patterns have an effect on their sleep, are freely able to communicate the need for separate beds and rooms inorder to attain a good night’s sleep. This decision will be accepted openly and honestly without any fear of abandonment, rejection or disconnection. This further prevents the couple from holding onto subconscious anger about how they impact on each others sleep. It’s also important to remember that sleeping together doesn’t necessarily guarantee a marriage would be safe any more than sleeping apart can ruin the marriage.

The pros are:

  • Better sleep and more rest. Couples are at their peak and rejuvenated
  • Individuals who are more rested can then focus their energy on their relationship rather than on being grumpy and taking out their grumpiness, tiredness and restlessness on the person who has caused their sleep disturbance.
  • Couples engage in a healthier manner as lovers, friends and parents.
  • Intimacy is renewed rather than lost. The norm has always been if you sleep in the same bed, you are connected to your partner intimately, sleeping apart allows the couple space to develop healthy feelings for one another as opposed to sleeping in a bed that isn’t conducive to connecting due to sleep distress patterns and behaviours.


  • This can pose as an opportunity for partners to disconnect from one another
     Resentment can creep in if both aren’t invested in the decision.
  •  Loss of intimacy
  • Couples may lose focus of the goals of the relationship if they tend to spend lots more time alone in their respective rooms. This could cause further distance between the partners.
  • Distrust can creep into the relationship. The mind is a dangerous place, it can create scenarios in one’s mind as to whether their partner loves them or not, whether their partner is engaging in chats, communication with another especially if a partner is on his or her phone.

Dr Akashni Maharaj

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