Sleep Divorces: Compromising for a Better Night’s Sleep


Life moves at the pace of a juggernaut. To keep bringing your A-game and work well for your employer, maintain a happy and harmonious relationship with your partner and, generally, keep your friendships strongly, day in, day out, you need to sleep well night after night. A lack of sleep can throw your general co-existence and interactions with others into chaos if you’re feeling tired and irritable constantly.

Compromise when it comes to sharing a sleeping space has been the order of the day, recently, it would seem. Some couples have shared with the world some of the bedtime compromises and arrangements they’ve made between themselves for both partners to feel content when bedtime comes and rested when morning arrives. First up is…

The sleep divorce

‘We’re getting divorced’ — neither person in a marriage wants to hear these words.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But it’s not what you think.

According to a study discussed in Psychology Today, 30% of Americans would prefer to sleep away from their partner. In these ‘sleep divorces’, people in perfectly happy relationships agree to sleep apart — and it seems to be working.

So much so that relationship experts agree with the solution. The effects of a lack of sleep on our behaviour have an impact on the others around us, so a sleep divorce could be just what you need to keep things ticking harmoniously over in a relationship.

As well as getting a good night’s sleep and being able to communicate and discuss matters more reasonably with your partner, a whole host of other reasons have been suggested as to why a sleep divorce can work for you:

  • To suit scheduling conflicts – if you and your partner work different hours, you can avoid disrupting each other’s sleep.
  • To prevent sleep disruption — one partner might be a restless sleeper, which can really disrupt the sleep of the other partner.
  • To cope with different sleeping habits — perhaps your partner gets up a lot in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or likes to read or use their iPad before they settle down for the night.
  • To allow different sleeping environments — your partner might like to fall asleep with the TV on and the window open, whereas you could prefer to sleep with the window closed and as little background noise as possible.

Swapping sides of the bed and other ‘weird’ habits

A second example of compromising when it comes to sleeping arrangements went viral recently when a gentleman called Steve O’ Rourke triggered an intense but light-hearted debate on Twitter about some of his own bedtime habits. Mr O’ Rourke tweeted how some of these habits included swapping sides of the bed with his partner, rather than having a designated side; swapping pillows; and observing a rule of ‘first one in, chooses’.

By all accounts, the arrangements work for him and his partner and none of it felt weird to Mr O’ Rourke, but many Twitterati disagreed with their habits, stating that they had their own side. It wasn’t a complete case of Mr O’Rourke in the red corner and the rest of the world in the blue, though,. Lots of people spoke out in his defence and commented that it was nothing out of the ordinary. Some even confessed to similar habits  themselves.

But what can you do?

These are just a couple of examples of compromises that couples reach have reached when it comes to bedtime. What can you do if your partner is a noisy sleeper or disturbs you in some way, or even if they aren’t or don’t, but the two of you are just having a bit of trouble getting shut-eye in the same bed? Here are a few further suggestions:

Chat about the situation — and take steps to address it

You don’t want to ostracise your partner for snoring. It’s not their fault. That said, you may notice they tend to snore louder — or even just start to snore, if they didn’t already — when they’ve been drinking, exercising or performing some other activity. Raise the issue so that they have option to address it. If they do have a big night out with friends and will end up disturbing you, they may be happy to just crash on the sofa or on a spare bed in the guest room. If they have other sleep issues that are proving disruptive, they may be willing to visit a sleep therapist. Either way, give them the chance instead of lambasting them over it.

Leave your phone or tablet in another room

Despite all their clever functions, mobile phones and tablets are meant for use in waking hours. Once it’s time to hit the hay, you should put your devices to bed as well, to avoid disrupting your own sleep or your partner’s. By bringing them (the devices) into the bedroom with you, you expose yourself to the risk of checking your emails or waking up in the middle of the night and, instead of going straight back to sleep, tapping around some more. What’s that? Worried about sleeping in? No dice. Buy a good alarm clock. The devices stay in the other room.

Separate duvets

This is something of a cold-hearted solution, but it can work. Some people are more comfortable when they completely wrap themselves up in the duvet – but they leave their partner shivering when they do it; others like to only partially cover themselves with the duvet — but likewise leave their partner shivering when they do it. The solution? Separate duvets. Is it acceptable? Of course it is. If you can’t share the same duvet reasonably, and it’s not going to cause any ill will, then why not?

Compromise on pets

Are you one of those animal lovers that just can’t bear to be away from the dog and wants to have them there in the room with you? That’s all very well, but your partner might be less fond of the idea. Often, because the issue bothers them more, they’ll get their own way — and it looks like man’s best friend will be in a separate room. You’ll have to compromise over that. If your partner works away or works nightshifts, these are ideal opportunities to bring your pet back into your bedroom.

You don’t want to be at war with your partner inside of your bedroom or outside of it. Neither of you should go deprived of sleep. Best of all, breaking conventions around traditional sleeping arrangements could increase the harmony between you, rather than put you at loggerheads. Get chatting. Get compromising. Then look forward to some truly nourishing rest for you both.