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More Couples Sleeping Apart: Is This Healthy?

A. F. Benvenuto Tuesday, August 3, 2010 ,
A recent article in The New York Times points out the trend of more and more couples sleeping in separate rooms. Nearly one in four American couples does so and, according the National Association of Home Builders, it's expected that 60 percent of custom homes will have dual master bedrooms by 2015.

This got us thinking: Is this a healthy trend? I mean, sure, occasionally we think we'd get a better night's sleep with a wall (or two) between us and our snoring, TV-watching, sheet-hogging Sig O. But would our relationship suffer?

To get to the bottom of it, we asked Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Romance), psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stops Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, for her take:

"Sleeping apart can contribute to the disconnect that plagues many relationships," Tessina says. "It just makes it easier to avoid each other, when what's really needed is connection and contact. There are solutions to snoring and restlessness -- a memory foam mattress will stop restlessness from being felt by a partner and snoring can be helped in a number of ways."

A bit more motivation to sleep in the same bed:
  • Your man may get a better night's sleep when you're with him. In a study published in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms, researchers found that while women slept less soundly when they shared a bed with someone they're romantically involved with, men actually slept better when next to a woman. Work out whatever issues you have with his sleeping habits and you both might get some high-quality shut-eye.
  • Bedtime isn't always for sleep, if you catch our drift. It's also prime for intimacy: snuggling and sex. This private time is crucial, especially if you have kiddies (a.k.a. nookie police). Sure you could meet him in "his" room, get it on, then flee back to "your" room. But then sex becomes a scheduled chore rather than an organic, meaningful, spontaneous activity.
  • Nighttime, while you're side by side, is one of the best times to communicate with each other. Between work and other responsibilities, you only have small snippets of uninterrupted time to communicate during the day. With the door shut (and iPhones snuggled into their charging stations), between the sheets is the place where you can truly talk about what's on your mind, without interruption by kid, dog, phone, cable guy, etc. "Cuddling up together and talking quietly is a great perk of married life," says Tessina. "Couples who know how to do that, and do it regularly, fare better than couples who don't." Bottom line: Try to solve whatever sleep incompatibility issues exist between you and your partner before fleeing for the guest room.
Does your significant other have any sleeping habits that drive you nutty? Would you consider sleeping in a separate bedroom?


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