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Do you and your other half sleep in separate beds by choice or for practical reasons? Or does the practice of sleeping alone baffle you? Here, we explore why some couples don't share sleep, and if that's bad for their relationships.

Many believe sleeping in separate beds is a sign that a couple is in trouble. Why on earth would a happily married or partnered couple choose to sleep in separate beds? They have got to be avoiding physical intimacy, and if they don't get couples counseling soon they'll inevitably separate. Alternatively, one of them might be suffering from medical problems that prevent shared sleep, something that will definitely affect the quality of their relationship. These opinions are certainly common, but are they prejudiced as well?

We'll take a peek into the world of sleeping separately today. Why do some people do it? Is it a new phenomenon? Does your sex life suffer — and does your relationship?

Why Some Couples Don't Share Sleep

Couples' reasons for sleeping separately are as varied as the couples themselves. Still, they can broadly be divided into two categories: those who sleep separately because they genuinely prefer it that way, and those who do it reluctantly for some other reason. To find out what motivates partners to sleep in different spaces, I talked to a bunch of people — both friends and people on online discussion boards I participate in. The answers were interesting.

Many reported that their different rhythms cause them to sleep separately. When one partner is an early bird and the other a night owl, sleeping together can cause trouble for both. One might feel compelled to go to bed earlier or later than they really want to, but if that doesn't happen, the partner that goes to bed later can wake the other up again.

Sleeping separately makes sense for many couples with have different circadian rhythms, then. 

Another common reason not to sleep in the same bed is because the two partners don't see eye to eye on the circumstances under which they like to fall asleep. Some people need absolute silence to drift off, while others prefer to go to sleep with the TV on or while listening to music. One person reported that her husband preferred to sleep in a cool basement during the summer, while she preferred to sleep in her bedroom. This led the couple to routinely sleep apart six months of the year, so it's clear temperature preference can be another reason to sleep in different places.

The most interesting reason comes from a friend of mine, though. She says that she thinks period nightly separation from her husband actually makes them feel closer.

She thinks one partner's stress can transfer onto the other partner subconsciously while both are sleeping, and that this can lead to arguments. Furthermore, couples who don't always sleep together can't possibly turn sex into a routine chore — instead, they have to be more intentional about it. This, my friend says, is something that leads to a better sex life. I was fascinated by this concept, because so many people are quick to conclude that sleeping apart must mean you don't do the deed at all. 

There are also those who reluctantly sleep apart, of course. I bet you can guess the most common cause of this. It's snoring, of course! Cosleeping with babies and toddlers is another common reason for couples to end up sleeping in different beds, while physical pain (like backaches or hip pain) can also mean sleeping together isn't feasible. 

My own husband travels for work rather a lot, so I'm fine sleeping alone or sleeping together. When we had our first baby, I felt strongly about cosleeping. He was fine with the idea that I would do so, but he was afraid he would sleep too deeply and end up squashing the baby. This led to an obvious compromise more cosleeping parents might consider if they do want to sleep in the same bed — the baby was on my side of the bed. 

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