Illustration for article titled What is one Photo: Everett Collection (Shutterstock)

When you actually stop thinking about it, sharing a bed with another person – to sleep – is a terrible idea. Sure, you can get used to sleeping next to a partner and feel more secure doing it, but having your own bed is tough in terms of sleep quality and disruption.

When everyone is chronically exhausted, you would think we would do everything in our power to get the best night’s sleep possible. And yet, it is considered the norm for couples to sleep in the same bed – to the point that there is a stigma in not sharing a bed with a romantic partner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just ask some of the couples who have opted for a “sleep divorce”. Here’s what it is, and when you might be considering one.

What is a sleep divorce?

Simply put, a sleep divorce is when people in a relationship who normally share a bed realize that they may be better off with a separate sleeping arrangement. This could mean that I love Lucy style single beds in the same room, in separate bedrooms, or in something completely different.

The idea is to take steps to ensure that everyone involved is getting the best sleep possible. And in case it’s not clear by now, a sleep divorce is not a reflection of your actual relationship. Indeed it is could help improve your relationship in many ways, including being able to be more patient with each other during the day because you’re rested.

When Should A Sleep Divorce Be Considered?

If sleep disorders or other issues are worsening your relationship, you and your partner may want to discuss a divorce in their sleep. A Article 2019 in the New York Times provided an in-depth look at the concept of sleep divorce and suggested a number of reasons why it might be a solid option for some couples. Some of them are:

  • Sleep on different schedules
  • Snoring and other disruptive breathing
  • You no longer have the physical ability to comfortably share a bed
  • Have different sleep (and personal) hygiene standards
  • Be bitter / angry with your partner because it is their fault that you didn’t sleep well
  • Disputes over sleeping and / or sharing a bed
  • Different sleeping preferences such as room temperature, number of blankets, whether you want to sleep with the TV switched on or not, etc.

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Also, don’t forget that people aren’t always open-minded when it comes to topics like sharing a bed. You may be dissatisfied with your sleep arrangement but think your partner likes it, so don’t say anything – and then it turns out that your partner is also looking for a change. A quick conversation can lead to a situation that works better for everyone.