Last week I talked about how we’ve been coping with colic (which turned out to be an un-diagnosed dairy allergy). And I mentioned that there was a second way we were dealing with the stress and chaos – one which I was hesitant to share. I’m talking about sleeping in separate beds, in separate bedrooms.

Why was I hesitant? Because I’m protective of my marriage.

I was chatting to a friend not so long ago, and we agreed that something changed for each of us when we each got engaged. Essentially, our relationships became sacred, and the subject of them – specifically any ‘issues’ we may have – was off-limits as a topic for discussion. We were fully in and on board – ergo we became intensely protective and private.

Bottom line: it was no longer acceptable to air our grievances and hold them up for scrutiny and analysis by friends and family.

Ultimately, if someone else thinks there’s something not right in my marriage, I don’t want to hear it. If we’re happy (we are) and what we’re doing works for us (it does) then that’s all that interests me. Nobody else’s opinion is of any consequence.

Would you ever consider separate bedrooms from your spouse? Could it be the thing that keeps you sane, or will it spell the end for your marriage? Here's why sleeping separately from your husband or wife might sometimes be the best option.

Of course, I’m not so lacking in self-awareness that I don’t see the paradox in that – if it’s truly inconsequential, then owning and sharing this (about-to-become-un)secret shouldn’t make me uncomfortable. Thing is, I anticipate certain opinions and I just can’t be bothered with having to defend our unusual setup.

Sleeping in Separate Beds

Yep – right now and pretty much since our second princess arrived and I’ve been breastfeeding her to sleep through the night, we’ve not shared a bedroom. Why? It goes hand in hand with what I wrote about last week and is a temporary arrangement to see us through a difficult period.

As I write, we’ve recently received a CMPA diagnosis which validates my extreme fatigue. It explains such a lot and I’m hopeful that my elimination diet will soon mean our baby girl is far more settled. For the time being and as things stand, Dan is helping me with the relentless pacing in the evenings when it’s required. He’s also taking Elfin for walks after dinner to allow me half an hour to unwind.

And then, come ten or eleven o’clock, he’s retreating downstairs and leaving us to it.

Woman Laying on Bed With Head in Hands

Support?

Does this sound unsupportive? It’s anything but. If Elfin gets too worked up, Dan will come back to help me – we’ve established a system which works for us at least half the time: after I’ve fed, he paces with her for a while and once she’s finally crashed out he’ll pass her to me to lay her down (my husband is afflicted with clumsiness and not trusted to attempt the manoeuvre).

Ultimately, as I spoke about last week, Dan needs his sleep in order to be of use to our family and to adequately fulfil his responsibility to provide for us while I’m at home with our girls.

Why Separate Bedrooms?

How did this situation come about? Funnily enough it was something we’d both thought about independently, but were afraid to voice to each other – him for fear of making me feel unsupported; me for fear of making him feel unwanted. His reasons for choosing to vacate the boudoir may be obvious, but mine? Because I’d inadvertently found myself co-sleeping (my only no-no, oops) and was terrified of squashing our tiny baby as I slept: the more space I had in our bed, the safer Elfin would be.

Mother and Baby Bedsharing

As and when things settle down with Elfin (it has to happen eventually, right?) we’ll reevaluate and I’ll welcome hubby back into the fold. But for now, our arrangement suits us both.

Reasons Couples May Choose to Sleep Separately

I did a bit of research for the purposes of this post and it turns out we’re not alone! Apparently, in 2017 25% of married couples slept separately. These are some of the reasons having separate bedrooms may be appealing:

  • New baby/the hell of colic, as described above;
  • Co-sleeping;
  • Snoring;
  • …Or teeth grinding their teeth (Dan used to get so annoyed by this before I had a mouth guard!);
  • Insomnia;
  • Shift patterns;
  • Light sleeper;
  • Sleep Apnea;
  • Temperature preferences;
  • Mattress preferences;
  • Lights-out preferences.

As you can see, this not exhaustive list gives some pretty compelling reasons to have your own space. But is it healthy?

Is It a Good Idea to Sleep Separately?

I’m going to link out to some research in a minute to give this article some credibility. But whatever the research says, my personal opinion is that every marriage is different, and you should just do what works. The end.

…Having said that, here’s what the experts says: poor sleep is linked to so many health problems, including weight gain, increased blood pressure, risk of heart disease and diabetes.

It’s pretty dire. So why would you not do whatever it takes to improve your and your spouse’s sleep health? It’s just good sense, right? Especially if it also offers a practical solution to marital problems too.

If it will benefit your quality of sleep and your marriage, it has to be worth a try.

Will Separate Bedrooms Affect Your Sex Life?

An understandable concern.

In a word: no.

Couple in bed.

It certainly doesn’t need to. As I update this post several years after our period of sleep divorce, I can hand on heart say that it made zero difference to us at the time. By which I mean, when you’re surviving on four or five hours sleep a night, sex is the last thing on your mind regardless of sleeping arrangements.

But for those who are not dealing with colic, it’s still not a dealbreaker for intimacy:

Pressure is removed, which means no more obligatory sex. And let’s face it, that’s not the best kind for anyone’s libido, or indeed their relationship. What this ultimately means is that you may find you rediscover passion and your sex life and your marriage might even improve.

Should You Try a Sleep Divorce?

Bottom line? If it feels good and benefits you personally and as a couple, there is literally no reason not to go for it. Nobody even has to know. (Unless you decide to write about it on a blog…)

Is this something you have or would consider, or do you think separate bedrooms spells the end of a marriage?

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

3 Comments

  1. Both my kids have been high needs in the night. Both have woken more than newborns for years. My partner and I have now slept separately for about 3 years or more. The boys cosleep in my son’s double bed. Us girls breastsleep together in my king. It’s such a short space of time in the grand scheme of things. It’s not ideal but quite frankly if our relationship can’t survive a few years of putting our kids first then it was never going to last anyway and wouldn’t be worth my time!

    • Hear hear! I think it’s just one of those things we tend not to talk about, but actually it’s more common than we’d think!

  2. I applaud you for doing it and it working but but co-sleeping with kids and not sleeping with my husband has always (prior to and post partum) has been a big no no for me. I would never put down anyone else for doing it though. Reason being, I’m one of those strange females that NEEDS physical intimacy frequently from my spouse. Its 90% sex with a 10% of cuddling. It’s usually men who are like this, but I found out a small amount of women like myself are like that. Post partum, I actively got treatment/exercises from a Womens Health physio just so I could get back to that (and exercise). So my 5mo from the get go has had his own bed, his own room, his own bedtime routine from the get go. Result: He slept through the night at 3 months, we were able at that same time to resume sex and I started back at my pool/gym once a week. Sex and exercise – I sleep like a log. My son has only entered our bedroom a handful of time. I want him growing up knowing and understanding that this room and that bed is Mum & Dads zone and unlike the rest of the house he will not have free access to it. It’s the one room in our house that is tidy, tranquil ,smells nice, and zero kids stuff. If myself or hubby need a 30min mental break we have that room to recuperate in..

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