Sleeping separately is often thought to be the beginning of the end for a loving couple. But studies show that having permanently separate beds — if you have the space and means — can actually reinforce the bonds of a relationship.
BUENOS AIRES — Couples, it is assumed, sleep together — and sleeping apart is easily taken as a sign of a relationship gone cold. But several recent studies are suggesting, people sleep better alone and "sleep divorce," as the habit is being termed, can benefit both a couple's health and intimacy.
That is, if you have the space for it...
While sleeping in separate beds is seen as unaffectionate and the end of sex, psychologist María Gabriela Simone told Clarín this "is not a fashion, but to do with being able to feel free, and to respect yourself and your partner."
She says the marriage bed originated "in the matrimonial duty of sharing a bed with the aim of having sex to procreate." That, she adds, gradually settled the idea that people "who love each other sleep together."
Is it an imposition then, or an overwhelming preference? Simone says intimacy is one thing, sleeping another.
Harm of bad nights' sleep
People have different sleeping habits, she says, and "different things can happen when it's time to sleep: one of them wants to watch TV, or wakes up very early, snores, needs a bit of light, gets hot or gets cold. When two people are close together they're going to affect one another and that means sleeping badly."
Sleeping badly leaves "physical and psychological scars."
And that has daytime consequences, in the form of tiredness, changing moods, concentration problems or irritability, among others.
Sleeping badly, says Simone, leaves "physical and psychological scars," and if the couple sleep badly, "how will they treat their partner day in, day out? How will they negotiate, or be able to empathize? If we're irritable, things will turn out bad."
A couple sleeping in a bed.
The importance of flexibility
Separate bedding can aid the couple's sex life, as you may come to miss, then actively desire the partner you can no longer hear snoring. We spoke to 43-year-old María who has been with Lucas, aged 45, for 10 years. They began sleeping in separate bedrooms six year ago, as "he wasn't sleeping, nor was I," adding, "this was a relief in our daily lives as we used to wake up in a foul mood. Breaking the taboo saved us."
We put practical solutions above tradition.
The couple, she says, have sex "when we want to," staying in bed together until, well, bedtime. "We discussed it at length and we're both very happy with the decision."
She says, "you have to end this myth that we're only together in bed, or in the day: that's not necessarily the case. We broke with this and put practical solutions above tradition."
There are no fixed rules, either way, says psychologist Simone. "Couples are dynamic. You can try things, with some nights one way and others another way. Be flexible."