Source: Best Health magazine, October 2015
It’s true: I don’t sleep with my husband anymore. And I ‘ actually, we ‘ have never been happier. Before you start jumping to conclusions, let me elaborate: When it comes to sleep, we are not a good match. My husband needs to read in bed to fall asleep; I’m in la-la land the minute my head hits the pillow. He prefers the bedroom toasty; I like it cold. He requires a soft mattress; I like my bed firm. And the list of incompatibilities goes on.
In the early days of our courtship, we did our best to accommodate each other. I tried reading next to him in bed but got distracted by his noisy page turning. He tried wearing a toque to bed so that we could keep the room at my optimal sleep temperature. These band-aid solutions worked well enough ‘ or so we thought ‘ until three years ago, when we moved into a house with an extra bedroom.
Around that time, our daughter started waking up in the night and, inevitably, ending up in our bed. My husband, who has a hard time falling back to sleep, began reading/sleeping in the office/guest room. This went on for several weeks. Then one day, we both sheepishly confessed the truth about our new nighttime arrangement: We’ve never slept better. After years of restless bed sharing, two kids and a decade in cramped condos, we needed a bit more space ‘ and finally had it. The luxury of everyone having their own room was too much to resist.
I suspect it’s something many couples yearn for but are too ashamed to suggest. I get it: Sleeping apart is the ultimate marital taboo ‘ a sure sign that your marriage is on the rocks. But a 2013 study by Ryerson University’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory shows that as many as 30 to 40 percent of couples sleep in different beds and that couples that sleep apart get better rest.
Even still, I know couples that haven’t had sex in months ‘ even years ‘ who would never consider sleeping apart. To be fair, I see the downsides, too. I miss snuggling, impromptu pillow chats and having a warm body next to mine on those cold winter nights. There is something lovely about turning over to see your spouse sleeping peacefully next to you.
I confess to feeling self-conscious when it becomes obvious that my husband and I have separate bedrooms, like when we have company over and our four-year-old asks, at the top of her voice, if her book is in Mommy’s or Daddy’s room. When our little secret becomes public, people look at us as though we’re one twin-size mattress away from divorce. The few times I tried to defend our choice, I was met with the sympathetic head tilt, followed by much concerned nodding. Translation: They didn’t believe me for a second. It’s now gotten to the point where I don’t even try to explain our sleeping arrangement ‘ and usually people are too polite to ask.
Rest assured, there’s no talk of separation outside the bedroom ‘ well, not any more than any other couple juggling careers, a fat mortgage and two young kids. Life is stressful. That’s why, in our opinion, you need a good night’s sleep. And, as for that elephant in the room, yes, we are having sex, thank you very much. In fact, I’d say just as much as, if not more than, when we slept in the same bed.
I like to think we have the best of both worlds: We get all the health benefits of sleeping alone with the option of sleeping together when the mood strikes us. In fact, just the other night, we ended up in the same bed and, when I woke up in the morning to see his sleepy face next to mine, it was a real treat.