What is a Sleep Divorce?

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Did you know that over a third of American couples opt for a “sleep divorce”? This growing trend, where partners choose to sleep in separate beds or bedrooms, aims to improve sleep quality and overall relationship satisfaction. If you’ve ever wondered whether sleeping apart could be the solution to your nighttime woes, read on to learn more about what sleep divorce is, why couples choose it, and how it could benefit your relationship.

Understanding Sleep Divorce

Sleep divorce is the practice of couples sleeping apart to ensure both partners get the rest they need. Unlike traditional divorce, sleep divorce doesn’t imply a breakdown in the relationship; instead, it’s a pragmatic approach to solving sleep-related issues while maintaining a strong emotional connection.

Why Do Couples Choose Sleep Divorce?

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

One of the most common reasons couples opt for sleep divorce is snoring. Snoring can be disruptive, leading to frequent awakenings and poor sleep quality. Similarly, sleep apnea, characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, can severely impact both partners’ rest.

Different Sleep Schedules

Couples often have different sleep schedules due to work commitments, personal habits, or natural body clocks. One partner might be a night owl while the other is an early bird, causing disturbances when one goes to bed or wakes up much earlier than the other.

Restless Leg Syndrome and Other Sleep Disorders

Conditions like restless leg syndrome, which causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, can make it challenging for couples to share a bed. Other sleep disorders, such as insomnia or periodic limb movement disorder, can also necessitate sleep separation.

Temperature Preferences

Disagreements over bedroom temperature can also lead to sleep divorce. One partner might prefer a cooler room, while the other likes it warmer, making it difficult to find a comfortable compromise.

Woman laying in bed with a cold water bottle on her forehead, demonstrating the impact of temperature on sleep.

Mattress Preferences

Couples often have different preferences for mattress firmness and types. What feels comfortable for one partner might be uncomfortable for the other, leading to restless nights.

Light and Noise Sensitivity

Sensitivity to light and noise can also be a factor. One partner might like to sleep with a nightlight or listen to music, while the other needs complete darkness and silence to fall asleep.

Benefits of Sleep Divorce

Sleep divorce offers couples numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved Sleep Quality: The most significant benefit of sleep divorce is improved sleep quality for both partners. When each person has their own sleeping space, they can create an environment that meets their specific needs, leading to better rest.
  • Reduced Conflict: Sharing a bed when sleep issues are present can lead to frustration and conflict. By sleeping apart, couples can avoid nighttime disagreements and wake up feeling more positive and refreshed.
  • Enhanced Relationship Satisfaction: Getting enough rest is crucial for emotional regulation and overall happiness. Well-rested partners are more likely to have the energy and patience needed to maintain a healthy, loving relationship.

Drawbacks of Sleep Divorce

But, just like with most things, it also has some drawbacks:

  • Perceived Stigma: There can be a social stigma attached to sleep divorce, with some people viewing it as a sign of relationship problems. Open communication with your partner and reassurance that the decision is mutually beneficial can help mitigate this.
  • Loss of Physical Intimacy: Sleeping apart might reduce spontaneous physical intimacy. Couples can address this by making time for cuddling, sex, and other forms of physical closeness before going to their separate sleeping spaces.

Solutions to Common Sleep Issues

But before you throw in the towel and move to separate rooms, identify what is disrupting your sleep. There are many sleep solutions that could reduce or eliminate disruptions while allowing you to still enjoy the same bed. Let’s take a look!

Adjustable Air Beds

Many of the reasons couples consider sleep divorce are preventable. For example, couples with different firmness preferences can find comfort with adjustable air beds. The Airpedic mattresses are a great choice, offering customizable firmness levels for each side of the bed. Nest Bedding also offers an internal split option, allowing couples to choose a different firmness level for their side of the bed.

Temperature Regulation

For couples struggling with temperature differences, the Eight Sleep Pod Cover is an excellent choice. This revolutionary sleep product allows couples to adjust the temperature on their side of the bed independently. It also tackles issues like separate wake-up times by allowing users to set a GentleRise alarm clock. You can set it to vibrations, heat, or both, but it only affects your side of the bed. Setting it to a higher heat simulates the sun coming up, creating a warmer space and emulating circadian rhythms.

Scandinavian Sleep Method

Another approach to address sleep issues without resorting to sleep divorce is the Scandinavian sleep style. This method involves couples using separate bedding while sharing the same bed, helping to minimize disturbances from different sleep preferences. For a more detailed exploration of this style, check out our guide on the Scandinavian Sleep Method.

Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets offer a nice benefit for sleepers with restless leg syndrome. The Nest Bedding Weighted Comforter is a great option and beautiful to boot!

While these solutions can be effective for many couples, they may not work for everyone. For those who still find themselves struggling with sleep issues despite trying these methods, opting for a sleep divorce can be a valid and beneficial choice.

Final Thoughts

Sleep divorce is a practical solution for couples struggling with sleep-related issues. By choosing to sleep apart, partners can improve their sleep quality, reduce conflict, and enhance their relationship satisfaction. It’s essential to approach the topic with open communication and mutual understanding, ensuring both partners are on board with the decision. Ultimately, prioritizing good sleep can lead to a healthier, happier relationship.


Over a Third of Americans Opt for Sleep Divorce,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine, accessed May 23, 2024, https://aasm.org/over-a-third-americans-opt-sleep-divorce/.

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