Modern Couples, Separate Beds

Illustration for article titled Modern Couples, Separate Beds

Apparently, people aren't sleeping together anymore. It's Leave It To Beaver, but with different rationales.


Says the New York Times' Bruce Feiler,

Nearly one in four American couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, the National Sleep Foundation reported in a 2005 survey. Recent studies in England and Japan have found similar results. And the National Association of Home Builders says it expects 60 percent of custom homes to have dual master bedrooms by 2015.

The reasons for this are legion: the intrusion of 24-hour technology; divergent schedules; early yoga; snoring and restlessness. Or, people just care a lot more about sleeping. Says one sleep specialist quoted in the article, "What happened in the last decade is that people are suddenly making their own sleep a priority. If their rest is being impaired by their partner, the attitude now is that I don't have to put up with this."

Of course, we all get it: sometimes you just crave privacy. Like the author's, my grandparents slept in separate rooms: he watched procedurals and blasted classical music until 4 am; she did a little praying, went to sleep and was up at 5. It always seemed like a reasonable enough arrangement...until she mentioned wistfully to me once, when I was older, that it had not been her decision and she missed the companionship of sharing a bed. Because that's sort of the issue, isn't it? It's rarely a spontaneous, collective motion: it has to be one person's decision first.

Feiler, for one, is for bucking the trend - if nothing else, in the interests of the national sex-life, lest we descend into a country of Bourbon monarchs making occasional forays into each others' chambers. Says he,

We need a campaign. One of those national initiatives politicians are always calling for. "The War on Bed Divorce," call it, or "Brush Up on Your Bediquette." Thirty-five years after "Save the Whales," it's time for "Save the Sheets."


Cute, but on one head Feiler can rest easy: for most of the couples I know, two beds - let alone two bedrooms - is an unthinkable luxury, an expense and a use of space that we simply can't afford. After all, that's what Breath-Rite strips are for.

Married, But Sleeping Alone [NYT]



In theory, I'm fine with the idea of separate beds- in summer, it's hard enough to sleep with clothes on, let alone enduring another warm-blooded creature in the vicinity. But in practice it can't work for me. When I share a bed with my husband I sleep like a baby. If he's not there, I sleep restlessly, wake up often and have from time to time experienced incredibly strange half-lucid sleep where I actually sit up and speak to hallucinated dream-images on the wall. I know I do this because I wake up in mid-sentence. (My old college roommate witnessed it multiple times, though it helped when she talked to me as I fell asleep. A very understanding friend.)

I'm slightly afraid that separate beds would lead to some kind of mental break. I swear we have a normal relationship otherwise; he just happens to be my living Lunesta diffuser.