What It Means For Your Relationship When He Wants To Sleep In A Separate Bed

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What It Means When He Wants To Sleep In A Separate Bed

Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship knows the struggles of sleeping with someone (don’t be gross. I literally mean SLEEPING with someone).

Generally, we get used to sleeping alone and the transition to sleeping with a partner can sometimes be, well, kind of horrible.

I’m no stranger to wondering if sleeping in separate beds is something to consider in a relationship. My husband snores and I hog the bed (to be fair, it was MY bed first!). My husband and I have struggled to make sleeping together work ever since we got married (seven years ago).

This and his messiness are like our only marital “problems.” Nothing logical about us says “fantastic sleeping partners.” Like, at all. Outside of bed hogging and snoring we have different sleep schedules and temperature needs. Together, we’re the opponent of the “good night's sleep.”  

I won’t pretend that I haven’t felt a little relieved when he gets up to go to work and I get to sleep alone for another couple hours (it’s bittersweet… but mostly sweet).

RELATED: Let Her Sleep In! Women Need More Sleep Than Men, Says Science

So, I would like to think that I would understand if my husband requested sleeping in separate beds. But, I’m honestly not sure I would. I need the intimacy of sleeping in the same bed (even if I sometimes despise it).

But I’m also a strong proponent of being flexible in relationships. A good night’s sleep is important, maybe it would be BETTER for some relationships to sleep apart. Better sleep leads to less grumpiness, which leads to fewer arguments and overall more satisfying interactions.

Every relationship is different, and honestly, I think sleeping apart could work (in the right circumstances). Regardless of our human need for intimacy, it’s possible that a lot of us would sleep better if we slept alone.

But most of us think that sleeping next to the person we love (and let’s be real — and have a sexual relationship with) is just part of the deal. I mean, that’s how it works. You exchange poor sleep for that sweet lovin’ … right?

That’s not necessarily how it works, but that can be how it feels. So, understandably, a lot of us would be upset if our significant other requested sleeping alone.

But is it always a bad thing? Check out what it might mean if he wants to sleep in separate beds.

Your sleep schedules are different.

According to a study published in the journal Sleep Disorders, couples in satisfying heterosexual relationships tend to synchronize their sleep stages.

This means that those with sleeping disorders (like insomnia) sleep better with a partner with healthy sleeping habits, but people with a healthy sleep pattern may actually sleep worse with someone with a sleep disorder sleeping next to them.

So, if your man is a healthy sleeper and you find yourself having trouble getting to sleep, then maybe him sleeping next to you is actually causing him to sleep poorly. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time consider that his desire to sleep alone is merely about him needing a good night’s sleep rather than a desire to get away from you.

You've been together for a while.

A survey of over 1000 people done by Leesa Mattresses showed that the longer a couple has been together, the more likely they are to desire to sleep apart. After only a year, 19.5 percent of the couples surveyed said they desired to sleep alone frequently and the percentage only went up as the years progressed. By the time a relationship had lasted from 21-30 years, the percentage was over half (at 53.5 percent).

Basically, his desire to sleep away from you could merely be an indicator of having dealt with mediocre sleep for too long and/or a comfort with you that doesn’t need to sleep with you every night to feel close.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s always a bad thing when a man wants to sleep alone. Considering that in the study, “58.5 percent of men reported that the quality of their rest actually worsened when their partner was in bed,” it could mean that he just wants to sleep better so that he can enjoy his awake time with you even more. Plus, I can’t be the only one who appreciates the leg room, anyway (*wink, wink*).

If you two are still spending quality time together and are still enjoying a satisfying sex life, I don’t see the problem with getting some quality sleep separately.

RELATED: I'm Happily Married But I Still Want My Own Separate Bed

Is he willing to compromise?

According to the Leesa study, the average American would like to spend an average of 12 nights a month sleeping alone. Honestly, sleeping with each other every other night doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me. Especially considering individual circumstances.

I mean, let’s get real about it. With different schedules, different job pressures, different sleep needs, etc., everyone requires a little something different from their sleep routine and it’s important to be sensitive to your partner’s needs in this area.  

However, it’s also important that he be aware of your need for physical intimacy. For example, if my husband and I had an arrangement where we slept apart certain nights a week, I would require WAY more physical intimacy before we slept separately. He’d literally never get off the hook from cuddling me while we watched TV before bed.

What does it say about your relationship?

I think we all tend to freak out a little when the idea of sleeping separately from our significant other comes up. I mean, it was great in the beginning, so it must mean the relationship is losing its spark, which may not really be the case. The reason for this is probably because generally, sleeping apart is seen as something that indicates a relationship problem (and frankly, it absolutely can), but why does that always HAVE to be the case? Why can’t it really be about wanting to stay with your partner and get some sleep?  

In fact, in the survey, 78 percent of the participants who said they wanted to sleep alone said that they were “completely satisfied” with their relationship. So, clearly, you can be in a happy and satisfying relationship and still desire some “solo sleep time.” I suddenly feel less guilty about how relieved I feel when my husband leaves me in bed alone in the morning. This was further highlighted in the survey by 52.2 percent of people thinking that it was “healthy” to sleep alone, and some actually found that it helped strengthen their relationship.

Basically, it seems clear that despite cultural ideals that a “happy couple” must sleep in the same bed, NOT sharing a bed CAN be good for some relationships. It all comes down to being open, honest, and willing to compromise.

At the very least, this is an important subject to discuss. Especially considering that the survey found that, “nearly a third of those who wanted the bed to themselves were too nervous to broach the subject with their partner.” At least now you'll have science to back you up!

RELATED: My Husband And I Sleep In Separate Rooms And We're Happily Married

Nicole Bradley-Bernard is a writer who needs coffee more than she needs anyone’s approval. She enjoys putting bright colors in her curly brown hair, spending time outside on cool days and being with her partner in life, Eric, who she considers a continuing source of inspiration.