Separate bedrooms
15 Mar 2024

Separate bedrooms – Beginning of the end of your relationship?

Does separate bedrooms mean the beginning of the end of your relationship?

I was asked to comment recently in Inews because of the increasing amount of celebrity couples (pictures flash up -Cameron Diaz, King Charles and Camilla, Brian Cox (famous actor in Succession) sleeping in separate bedrooms, also known as the ‘sleep divorce’ movement, so, is this good or bad for a relationship?

When we hear a couple no longer sleep together, it’s easy to assume that their relationship and sex life are over, despite the reality that the sex life of many people sleeping in the same bed was dead and buried years ago.

We need seven to eight hours of sleep a night for our cognitive functioning, mental health, mood, and physical health. Bad sleep puts us at greater risk of anxiety and depression. When we are well rested, we have more capacity for life, our immune system is stronger, and our concentration and attention span improve.

But sleeping with a partner has benefits too:  It can help people to feel calm and sexual intimacy triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress and blood pressure and encourages bonding with our loved one. But this only works if you’re sleeping in a stress-free environment, trickly with a partner who snores.

Almost one in three adults report sleep disruption as a result of financial worries and up to 74 per cent of UK workers report poor sleep quality, so have the celebs got it right?

Couples may choose to sleep separately for many reasons, whether that’s sleep disorders, regulating body temperature or a need for more personal space and solitude. Sleeping apart isn’t an indication of an unhappy relationship, so long as it has been discussed, negotiated and intimacy doesn’t disappear. Let’s face it you’re lucky if you’ve got a spare bedroom to actually use these days.

Relationships are changing. Committed couples often live apart from each other for extended periods, for example for military deployments, family commitments, job relocation, and remain close to each other, because they make time for intimacy when they are together and keeping in touch whilst apart. It’s communication and motivation that keeps couples together, connected and their relationships alive and on track, not just sleeping in the same bed each night.

Intimacy doesn’t only happen in the bedroom – you can be lying six inches away from your partner but feel poles apart. Trust, holding another person in mind and letting them know, sharing aspects of your day and having complimentary life goals keep people connected despite geographical distance or just sleeping in the next room.

Some couples may find joy and comfort in sharing a bed, while others may prioritise individual sleep spaces. Having a choice to sleep with your partner or alone can be incredibly empowering and freeing within a relationship.

The key is finding a balance that works for both partners and contributes to the overall well-being of the relationship. Everyone is personally responsible for getting their own needs met and all good relationships start through self-advocacy, self-expression, and asking for what you need. Perhaps it’s finally time to shake up social norms, prioritise wellness and find out what works for you as an individual and as a couple without sacrificing intimacy.