Coming Out Of The Spare Room: Sleeping In Separate Beds

I read this article:

and decided to give my two cents on the matter, since this very much applies to me.

First off, sleeping separately from your spouse or significant other feels like some dirty little secret you have to keep from the masses. It wasn’t so long ago that two beds in the bedroom was standard procedure, but after shows like The Brady Bunch showcased happy married couples sleeping comfortably together, that became the norm. If you didn’t sleep with your partner, you were seen as a freak of nature who had some serious issues and were on the brink of a relationship disaster.

It’s not something you ever talk about or discuss with others. Mouths dangle open in awe and reproach. A look of pity spreads to someone’s face. One person told me once that I had to seek help, because my marriage was going to end if I continued on with my unhealthy routine.

A little background into me: I am a lousy sleeper. Have been most of my life. My teen years were hell on me, and it’s created a monster called INSOMNIA. It’s gotten a little better as I’ve aged, but I’ll have bouts of sleepless nights, no matter what I do. And believe me, I know all the tricks of the trade. Ask any insomniac what to do, and they will regale you with helpful tips like, “Turn the clock away so it’s not facing you/Don’t eat or drink anything a few hours before bed, but if you do eat something make it a high protein snack/a warm bath before bed helps/white noise is a bonus, so turn on that fan.”

I went through this horrible phase where having someone touch me while I was trying to sleep was like having hot pokers plunged into my skin. I could not have someone with me in my bed. If they moved, I woke up. If they stirred, I woke up. If they breathed, I woke up. I had to have an invisible bubble surrounding me and if a significant other broke through that bubble there would be hell to pay! I apologize now to anyone who had to endure me in that state of mind. Due to this, it was always easier for me to stick around long enough for me to not feel tortured, and then move to another location to sleep.

I mean, I had to get sleep, somehow. Have you ever gone days without sleep? It’s painful.

My husband so far is the only person I can have touching me while we sleep. I’ve fallen asleep on him, which has never happened to me before! Maybe it’a a comfort level or security which has enabled me to do this, but there’s just one problem: he snores. Like most of the population, I imagine. And no amount of white noise helps. Because of this, I will stick it out as long as I am able to, and then we finish sleeping in separate rooms. This was hard for him to deal with in the beginning, and I’m sure it’s still hard on him at times. He’s a very cuddly guy, and if he had his way he’d use me as a body pillow the whole night, but this won’t bode well for me as you can imagine.

After reading this article, I decided to come out to the world (or the roughly 50 or so of you who actually read my blog). We aren’t freaks of nature. Some of us have sleep issues. Others have partners who snore. A few are blessed with both  scenarios. I found out in recent years that a relative of mine is in the exact same boat, and she and her husband do the same thing we do! It’s like this lifestyle people feel so ashamed of, but what’s the alternative? I refuse to live my life as a walking zombie, well, until the zombie apocalypse occurs. I’ll fit right in.

Kidding aside, there are plenty of married couples who sleep in the same bed day in and day out and have issues in their relationship. I don’t feel choosing one lifestyle over the other spells doom. Not sleeping in order to hold onto some standard of what’s “normal” is very detrimental to a healthy couple. Instead, you should seek out what’s normal for YOU. My husband and I have compromises and meet somewhere in the middle. We value each other, and we both know how important sleep is. He doesn’t want me to shove him in the middle of the night while attempting to get him to sleep quietly, and I don’t want to have to do that to him. This doesn’t affect our communication, or our quality time together. Neither of us are crying ourselves to sleep at night (well, not that I know of).

I enjoyed the tips listed at the bottom of the article, and I’m going to re-post them here in case there are some of you who decided not to read the article. Here are tips for sleeping in separate bedrooms:

1. Stay touchy-feely with each other. Even when couples don’t hold each other all night long, a lot of touching goes on while you’re falling asleep. Touch enhances the sense of intimacy and it also has a measurable biological effect: it stimulates the production of oxytocin, the hormone that deepens human bonding.

Separate-bed solution: “Make a real effort to stay touchy-feely during the day. Don’t just walk by each other; stop for a casual kiss or a loving pat. Hold hands on the couch and cuddle while you watch TV in the evening before bed,” suggests Beverly Hills psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman, author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets (Cogito Media Group, 2010). “Couples need to make an extra effort if they sleep apart to consciously make up for the loss of loving touch. It’s not only important for holding onto the romance — touch is vital to emotional and physical health.”

2. Engage in pillow talk. You may have lots of focused conversations about your kids, the car, work and the dog, but there’s also intimacy in the kind of pillow talk couples engage in as they relax before falling asleep. Good marriages thrive on these private, unplanned conversations that may vanish when you start sleeping separately.

Separate-bed solution: Try to fall asleep together in the same bed with the understanding that if one partner disrupts the other’s sleep, that person will slip off to a different room during the night. The one who wakes up first can join the other for pillow chat in the morning. Lieberman suggests taking your pillow talk “to go” — while snuggling on a porch, in front of a fire, in the garden or in any cozy corner of the home — with candles, soft music, strawberries and whipped cream before retreating to separate sleeping arrangements.

3. Plan your romps between the sheets together. If you’re not snoozing together, you might end up having less sex. But psychologists say that many couples’ sex lives are enhanced by sleeping in separate rooms — in fact, it can even lead to greater desire for a partner or more frequent sexual encounters.

Separate-bed solution: “Instead of the ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ effect that sleeping together can bring — along with morning breath and bed head — you can present yourself at your most appetizing best,” says Lieberman. Women should forego their flannel pajamas for sexy lingerie instead. Light candles, take a bath or shower together, and invite your partner “over” to the bed he or she doesn’t usually sleep in. Create a “love nest” atmosphere and be spontaneous about where you will make love that night before you go to sleep.

4. Find other ways to sustain your emotional connection. It’s easy for any couple to get caught up in the daily grind and take each other for granted. If you’re not sharing a bed nightly, it may be even easier to miss each other’s cues for connecting emotionally.

Separate-bed solution: “Look for ways to be able to lie down together, even if it’s not sleeping with each other every night. Just some quiet time [spent] holding each other can help deepen your relationship,” says Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, psychologist and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness (Morgan James, 2009). Look for other ways to connect outside the bedroom, such as having at least one date night each week, engaging in a hobby or fun activity together — not just paying bills and doing household chores. Make breakfast dates (and keep them fresh) by planning a picnic on the floor, for example; other ideas could include eating on the porch or enjoying breakfast in bed together. “You shouldn’t sleep and eat separately — or it’s a recipe for disaster and divorce,” says Lieberman.


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