Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook

#1 Sleep Divorce Myth — Couples Sleeping Together Have More Emotional Intimacy

Couples sleeping together aren’t guaranteed more emotional intimacy; lack of sleep can even cause the loss of intimacy, so you may need a sleep divorce.Is your health and well-being suffering because you’ve bought into one of the biggest myths of our times? What myth? That once you enter into a marriage or committed relationship, you sleep in the same bed, in the same room, until death do you part. After all, couples sleeping together have more emotional and physical intimacy, right? Doesn’t sleeping away from your partner mean that you’re falling out of love with the person, or you have other problems in your relationship? 

Recent evidence shows that it may be time to challenge the “norm” of couples sleeping together as the only right way of being in a relationship. It’s perfectly okay to sleep apart!

“Oh, I can’t do that, Maria. If I tell my mate that I want to sleep apart from him, he’s going to think I don’t love him anymore. In fact, he’ll think I’ve been unfaithful or I’m planning to leave him!” 

Maybe you associate sleeping in another room as something you do when you’re angry with each other and want to make a point of how upset you are. Or perhaps you think that sleeping apart is the first step toward emotional estrangement and the ultimate breakup. After all, couples sleeping together do so to prove their commitment and desire for physical and emotional intimacy, right?  Hmmm. Let’s rethink this…

There are so many reasons why your sleeping style may conflict with your partner’s. Here are just a few of them…

  • He works the night shift; she works days,
  • He has sleep apnea and snores, and she’s a light sleeper,
  • She tosses and turns, jerks, kicks, or fling her arms in her sleep,
  • One sleeps hot and makes it uncomfortable for the other,
  • He gets up to visit the bathroom multiple times during the night, 
  • She finds it relaxing to read a book in bed, but her mate wants lights out immediately, 
  • He might want to watch TV to relax, his partner wants to listen to soothing music,
  • One is an early-to-bed person, the other is a night owl,
  • She wakes up with the sun, but her partner hits the snooze button over and over again,
  • He might need the window open, she needs it tightly shut so she feels safe,
  • One partner is a bed and covers hog, leaving the other on the edge and in the cold.

It’s no wonder people want to sleep apart! Perhaps that’s your secret desire, but having “the discussion” scares you to death. Some of my clients complain about poor sleep. They admit that sleeping with their partner is problematic, but they can’t find the courage to have the conversation and are afraid of what it would do for their connection and intimacy.

Get clear on what’s holding you back from having this conversation. Do you fear your partner will feel rejected? Are you afraid of what it will do to your connection and intimacy? Worried about what your friends and families will say when they hear about it? You’ve put up with it this long, why rock the boat?

From my personal experience, I know how hard the conversation can be. I asked my husband for a sleep divorce more than 10 years ago. I had tried to make do, but I was exhausted. We had completely different schedules (I love going to bed by 9pm and rising early) and we have radically different sleeping needs. In the beginning, the idea was met with some resistance, but we both agree now that it’s one of the best things we did for our intimacy. We both sleep better —  both taking care of our individual needs. We’re happier in general and our intimacy has increased instead of suffering. 

If you think you would benefit from taking this step, here are some tips for making the conversation easier

  • Choose a time when you’re both rested and can calmly talk about it.
  • Assure your mate of your love and appreciation, but you haven’t been sleeping well..
  • Know why you want to sleep separately and rehearse how you will say it.
  • Be very clear to your partner that it’s not an act of rejection.
  • Avoid blaming, ie. “You keep me awake at night”.
  • Explain – “We have different sleeping styles and I’m wondering if you’d be open to trying something new.” 
  • Speak about what kind of sleep environment you need and how you, as partners, can fulfill that. 
  • Listen to your partner and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Trial different sleep situations until you find the one that works for you.

Lack of sleep is causing an increase in health problems. Also, think about it…lack of sleep means lack of energy, which means lack of interest in sexual intimacy. And sleeping apart gives you a chance to miss each other, so you stop taking each other for granted. 

It’s an experiment you’re doing together until you find what works, which might also bring fun and curiosity back into your relationship. For example, some couples sleeping together on the weekends, choose to sleep separately during the week. Some have a complete sleep divorce. Others have found alternative remedies to the problems that cause sleep deprivation, like avoiding alcohol or compromising their wants, i.e., TV viewing, for the needs of the one they love.

Restorative sleep is a top 3 priority for well-being, along with a nutrient-dense diet and consistent exercise. A good health plan must take a holistic perspective that includes mindfulness around everything about you. I invite you to learn how Somatic Coaching can help you tune into what your body is telling you and how you can give it exactly what it needs, when it needs it. 

Thank you for the photo Jeremy Banks.

Healthy Sleep


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