Sleeping Single in a Double Bed

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Ah, if sleeping together was as romantic as in our sex therapist and author of WebMD’s Sex Matters message board. “If you’re not getting sleep next to your mate, you’re not going to be happy, pleasant, or easy to get along with. And if there’s resentment because someone isn’t getting snoring, the night owl, or the restless sleeper — it’s better to acknowledge it, then do something about it, Weston tells WebMD. “If they’re close to getting the amount of sex that each wants — and they need to sleep in separate rooms — then they’re OK. After all, a lot of couples don’t just roll over and initiate sex. They’re a lot more conscious about their negotiations on sex. And if someone is sleeping down the hall, it’s not a big thing to say, ‘Let’s fool around before we sleep.'”

Sleeping apart can be good for a relationship, she says. “It does not signal the end of a relationship at all. In fact, it can be the beginning. If one person has been sleep-deprived, they begin to feel more interested in sex. If you’ve ever slept next to a person who snores, you have to cope with waking up several times during the night. It does not create good will in a relationship.”

Staying Close While You’re Apart

All couples sleep apart sometimes, says Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, a marriage and family therapist in Illinois. “People may be embarrassed to talk about it, but it’s rampant.”

The impact on their relationship, she explains, is determined by the meaning they give it — and how they do it. “If they’re sleeping apart all the time, it can create problems. If one person thinks that isn’t how marriage should be, it’s a problem,” says Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage.

“As long as couples continue to connect physically, sleeping apart can be OK,” she tells WebMD. “But when people stop touching each other regularly — when they stop being physically intimate, stop cuddling, stop laughing at each other’s jokes, stop spending time together — that puts them at risk for sleep apnea who is literally rattling the windows — or someone who is a light sleeper and is up and down all night — that is extremely disruptive to the other person’s sleep. I once interviewed a lot of couples with snoring problems, and those are very real disruptive problems.”

The crux of the issue: “Let’s look at the real motor here, what’s causing the problem, whether it’s a medical or sleep-style problem or something more,” she advises. “Let’s also look at the relationship — are you cuddling, are you making love, do you have a happy relationship? If you are, if you do, then the sleeping and snoring issue is just that. If sleeping apart reflects other issues in the relationship, then we need to look at the whole picture.”