Sex & Relationships

The case for sleeping in separate beds is compelling but...

Snoring, tossing and turning... why do couples brave a hard night's sleep together when we could get blissful sleep in separate beds?
Happy Woman Sleeping in bed alone Photo, Getty Images.

As every couple knows, sharing a bed comes with one or two compromises that don’t always make for the best night’s rest. It’s not easy accommodating another person’s arms and legs or their habit of tossing and turning. Conflict can arise when one partner likes to sleep with the window open (even in winter) while the other insists on sleeping in an airless tomb with the window firmly shut.

And snoring? Let’s not even enter into that emotional minefield.

Even though most couples confess to getting a better sleep on their own, and sleeping in separate beds looks like a pretty practical solution to the problem, the shared marital bed continues to be the norm.

An article in The Atlantic by writer (and coupled insomniac) Jon Methven suggests there are a number of reasons why the majority of people consistently choose to get a half-decent sleep with their partner over a luxurious night’s repose on their own.

Methven consults a few historians in his quest and learns that the origins of sleeping together may have been practical. Beds were expensive and if a family had one everyone would pile in out of simple necessity. But we also seek protection in numbers, says one expert, who says fear of burglars and bandits and other scary night creatures kept families close too.

What keeps us together when financial necessity and fear of bandits are removed, however? That’s a more complex answer. One on hand, it may be simple conformity, which can be considered another form of fear. Culturally, we assume couples that sleep together are more intimate.


But Methven's final point will hopefully resonate with most. He concludes that the real reason we find discomfort in one another’s arms may be because we love one another and ultimately desire intimacy and affection over a blissfully uninterrupted slumber.

Sounds like a pretty solid answer to me.

Do you secretly prefer sleeping alone?


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