12 Reasons Married Couples Should Sleep in Separate Beds

Sleeping together may ignite the wrong flame

Fighting with your spouse can cause you both to lose sleep, but losing sleep can also cause you to fight with your spouse. This chicken-egg conundrum has serious health implications for couples, especially if sleepless nights are more than a rare occurrence. In a new study at The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, researchers acquired blood samples from 43 couples, both before, and after, they had a fight, on two separate occasions. The couples supplied information about topics known to generate spats in their household, as well as their recent sleep history. Researchers instructed each couple to discuss the contentious topic, and to then supply a blood sample. Findings indicated that couples who fought after not getting enough sleep had measurably higher levels of stress-related inflammation. This type of physiological response puts both partners at a heightened risk for many diseases, and it’s a long list, which includes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis. While losing one night’s sleep is no big deal, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, senior author and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, emphasizes that sleep loss becomes dangerous over extended periods of time. “If couples don’t find ways to effectively address their differences, having continuously elevated levels of inflammation could put them at higher risk for health problems,” she says. While the study didn’t address the value of sleeping apart, it could allow couples to simmer down, according to this advice from marriage counselors. This will allow cooler heads to prevail come morning, they say. That’s especially true if you happen to be fighting about how the other person is keeping your from sleeping soundly.

Similar sleep patterns can make things worse

It’s not just marital spats which cause insomnia. If one of you has trouble sleeping for any reason, both of you may experience negative consequences. “Part of the issue in a marriage is that sleep patterns often track together. If one person is restless, or has chronic problems, that can impact the other’s sleep,” says explains Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser. “If these problems persist over time, you can get this nasty reverberation within the couple.”

If you’re concerned that not sharing a bed represents doom and gloom for your marriage, don’t panic. Married couples can be too close. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one in four married couples sleep in separate beds.

The snoring is driving you nuts

Snoring is a common complaint, and one of the main reasons why partners storm out of their bedroom, in the middle of the night. According to the Mayo Clinic, around half of all adults snore. If your or your spouse’s snoring stems from another sore point—such as drinking to excess—it may spark fights in addition to the need for earplugs. Snoring can represent a health-related issue, such as allergies, nasal problems, apnea, or a weight gain. It can also be the result of alcohol abuse, or late-night drinking. Sleep deprivation can also bring on snoring. If one (or both) of you are chronic snorers, you should talk to your doctor about the underlying cause, or try these home remedies. You should also consider starting out your night in separate bedrooms, rather than having to make the excursion to the couch—yours or someone else’s—at 3:00 a.m.

You can only fall asleep to 90s television re-runs (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

Seinfeld homages aside, if your sleeping habits don’t mesh with your spouse’s, everyone’s going to suffer. Sleep hygiene routines vary: One person may need white noise, and the other, complete silence. One spouse might covet the breeze from an open window, while the other, the whir of an air conditioner. Sleep experts typically extoll the virtue of good nighttime habits, such as turning off electronic screens and keeping the room dark, but many people genuinely sleep better if they drift off while watching TV or listening to music. That’s fine, unless the person trying to sleep next to can’t bear the habit. A better fix might be a kiss goodnight, and separate rooms.

Your schedules clash

If you’ve ever been woken up out of a blissful sleep by the surprising jolt of a groaning mattress, you may have a partner who works the night shift. Lots of couples have differing work schedules which affect their sleeping times, and patterns. Other couples simply have differing circadian rhythms, which just don’t jive. It you’re a night owl who never makes it into bed before 1:00 a.m., but the love of your life enjoys rising with the sun, sleeping in separate beds may be a great way to preserve harmony 24/7.

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