Raise your hand if you have ever got out of bed after enduring a sleepless night because of your partner’s snoring, tossing and turning, doona hogging or flinging, or other annoying nocturnal behaviour that interfered with your right to a good night’s sleep?
For all of you that have your hand raised, keep it raised if you would ever consider sleeping separately from your partner to get a good night’s sleep? I’ll bet a few hands have dropped – but I’ll also bet there are a few still raised – some a bit tentatively.
Keep those hands proudly raised folks and say “I love my partner, but I don’t love sleeping with them.” It’s time to claim back your right to a good night’s sleep.
A 2011 National Sleep Foundation Survey reported that 41% of people had their sleep significantly impacted by a snoring partner and 27% significantly impacted by partner movement.
The shared bed can be a battlefield, but night after night, many keep returning with the spirit of Winston Churchill – ready to fight on stoically, “whatever the cost may be”.
Challenging the ‘shameful’ secret of sleeping separately is becoming my personal crusade. In my late 30s I became less and less able to share a bed with my partner. I tried ear plugs, natural remedies and just ‘sucking it up’, but when it got to the point that I was prescribed Stilnox, I knew something had to change. The pressure associated with wanting to sleep separately was one of the key reasons that relationship ended. The boyfriend accused me of not trying hard enough to ‘get over’ my problems and made it quite clear that he would not be sleeping in a different bedroom to me – happy couples don’t do that! Eventually I had to say goodnight to him and the relationship.
My husband and I met a few months later and when we first started living together, sharing a bed each night was again, a bit of a nightmare. His snoring and my routine of retiring to bed late at night, and then wanting to read, interfered with our ability to sleep well. We were both miserable, and after a couple of weeks sharing a bed, totally exhausted and unable to function as reasonable, rationale members of society. Fortunately I discovered that my future husband (as he was at that time) approached sleep with the same pragmatism as I did.
We decided that separate rooms were going to save both our sanity and our relationship. Seven years later we are still very much in love with each other – and our own bedrooms. We still enjoy the intimate aspects of a normal, healthy couple, and share the pleasure of lying with each other in bed at night and in the mornings, when one of us will slip in with the other for a cuddle. But the bit in the middle—where we just sleep— is an activity we happily and unashamedly do alone.