Portland Marriage Counselor: Do Separate Beds Hurt Your Marriage?

February 11, 2015 by

As a society, we’ve come a long way since the days when married couples on television and film were always shown sleeping in separate beds to avoid risking what censors deemed “vulgarity and suggestiveness.” Today, it is accepted and celebrated that couples in relationships sleep side-by-side in the same bed and even—gasp!—enjoy regular sexual intimacy.

But while sharing a marital bed is an accepted practice in today’s society, studies have shown that more and more married couples are actually choosing to sleep apart. Recent data from the National Sleep Foundation suggests that as many as 25 percent of married couples today sleep in separate beds.

I get it. Sometimes, it can seem nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep next to your partner, especially if he or she is a loud snorer or blanket hog. You might have conflicting sleep schedules, or prefer to maintain your space and independence. It makes sense that you might be tempted to sleep in separate bedrooms so you can feel better rested and be able to enjoy your relationship more fully than if you were tired and cranky.

Unfortunately, sleeping apart from your partner can often harm your relationship. Separate beds may make you feel distant from your partner, even if you are only trying to catch up on some Zs.  There are several reasons behind this:

The strain on sex. If you sleep in separate beds, your sex life is likely to suffer over time. You’ll have to make a deliberate and premeditated effort to meet up for sex, taking away the spontaneity and openness of the act and transforming it into a chore. Oftentimes, couples who sleep in separate beds end up getting used to having sex less frequently, causing the sex drive to diminish.

The loss of touch. I’ve often spoken before about the importance of nonsexual touch in a relationship. Touch is often the glue that holds couples together over time, serving as a way to communicate and show our partner that we love them. Physical contact also causes our brains to release oxytocin, a hormone that makes us feel closer to the person who triggered the release.

It becomes routine. Couples who decide to sleep in separate beds in order to sneak in a good night’s sleep every now and then quickly get used to sleeping apart. When they do try to bunk up together again, they suddenly find themselves unable to sleep.

Like many aspects of marriage, learning to sleep next to your partner sometimes takes time, effort, and dedication. If you are having trouble sleeping next to your partner, try other options before making the choice to sleep in separate rooms. You may want to buy a bigger bed so you’ll each have more space, or use earplugs and a facemask to minimize disturbances from snorers and early risers.

But if you feel that it is absolutely impossible to get a healthy night’s sleep while sharing a bed with your partner, contact a Portland marriage counselor. A relationship specialist can provide you with effective techniques to help keep both your sexual and emotional relationship healthy – even when your sleeping habits are threatening to pull you apart.