by: Ashleigh Jackson
(NEXSTAR) — If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest in the same bed with your partner, it might be time for a “sleep divorce.”
While the term seems negative, sleep expert Dr. Alicia Roth said it’s not as bad as it sounds.
“When we talk about couples sleeping separately in sleep medicine, it’s usually because there will be mutual benefits to their sleep, mood, and functioning if they sleep separately,” Roth, a clinical health psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Nexstar.
According to a July 2023 study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, more than one-third of people surveyed admitted to sleeping in a separate room from their partner, either on an occasional or consistent basis.
Couples may choose separate sleeping arrangements for various reasons, as Roth explained. Incompatibility in sleep timing or sensitivity to environmental stimuli, such as snoring or restless sleeping, can be significant factors.
“A common problem is that one partner snores, and this is very disruptive to the other partner,” she said. “One partner may act out their dreams or talk and move in their sleep, which can be scary for their bed partner.”
The disruptive nature of these issues can lead to compromised sleep quality and, subsequently, impact the overall health and well-being of both people.
So, how do you know when it’s time to get a sleep divorce? Roth said there are some tell-tale signs, like struggling to get enough sleep and experiencing poor sleep quality.
“No one should sacrifice their sleep for their partner’s,” she said. “If there is any resentment between partners because one person isn’t sleeping well, that is also a sign.”
The decision to pursue a sleep divorce doesn’t come without some challenges, though. Many couples cherish the intimacy of going to bed together. For some, not sleeping with their partner might raise concerns about the health of their relationship.
To make a sleep divorce work, Roth emphasizes the importance of communication in addressing each other’s sleep needs. That means having open conversations about bed and wake times, sensitivity to noise and movement, and anything else interfering with your sleep.
“If your partner is doing something while they’re sleeping that they’re not aware of, it may feel awkward to bring this up. But both partners should be given the chance to get a good night’s sleep, whether that means changes to routines or sleeping in separate beds,” Roth said.