Have you ever heard the term “sleep divorce”?
It describes the solution 25% of couples use to solve sleep incompatibility.
A kinder, simpler way to describe it is sleeping in separate bedrooms.
I applaud this solution and wish we could call it something more positive than “sleep divorce”. Because it could actually SAVE marriages and help improve committed relationships for those who really need it!
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t vow to lie unconscious every 24 hours next to my husband until death do us part. Sleeping is the least important part of our time spent together. And sleeping apart doesn’t have to impact intimacy.
Now that I sleep so well, my husband and I are very compatible sleepers. But if we weren’t, I would absolutely try separate sleeping arrangements.
Losing sleep makes emotional regulation really challenging in the daytime.
When you don’t get adequate, quality sleep (the ideal amount is different for everyone), the connections between two important parts of your brain – your amygdala and your prefrontal cortex – are weaker.
Your ability to plan and make intentional decisions can be impaired. And emotional regulation becomes really challenging.
Your amygdala is in charge of your actions/reactions and your more rational prefrontal cortex has a harder time reminding you of your goals and intentions.
You might feel more angry, anxious, stressed, and emotionally sensitive.
Sounds great for your relationships, right?
One study in the UK found that people suffering from insomnia were FOUR TIMES as likely to report relationship problems.
So it seems backwards to be more afraid to sleep in separate beds than to continue with insomnia. Which we KNOW impacts the health of our relationships.
This includes work relationships and connections with children and friends, by the way, not just your romantic relationships.
Continuing to maintain an unworkable bedtime setup because of someone else’s expectations is a form of people pleasing. And it leaves a lot of couples miserable during their days and nights.
We really need to end the stigma that says couples who sleep separately have troubled relationships. It’s quite possibly just the opposite for some!
Breaking the stigma makes it easier for everyone to make healthier choices for themselves. And it helps everyone around us too!
This might not be right for you, and I’m certainly not suggesting this as a solution to all insomnia problems.
But if you and your partner have tried everything, and sleeping compatibly just doesn’t feel solvable, this might be worth considering.
But please – lets stop calling it sleep divorce!