Why a ‘Sleep Divorce’ is Beneficial for Some

A recent study found that more than one-third of Americans opt for a 'sleep divorce' -- which means they sleep in separate beds. A psychologist explains why that arrangement could be benefiical for some.

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CLEVELAND – A recent study found that more than one-third of Americans opt for a ‘sleep divorce’ – which means they sleep separately from their partner at night.

“I hear it from more and more people that it’s more comfortable for whatever reason to not share their beds together, but it’s for a variety reasons,” explained Alicia Roth, PhD, sleep psychologist for Cleveland Clinic. “And I don’t always like to call it ‘sleep divorce’ although that’s kind of a nice catchy name, but I don’t always like to call it that because it’s not necessarily a negative thing.” 

Dr. Roth said there may be an assumption that something must be wrong with a couple’s relationship if they sleep in separate beds, but that’s not always the case. 

There are all kinds of reasons why they might choose a ‘sleep divorce.’ 

For example, they could have different work schedules, or perhaps one of them snores and it’s disruptive to the other. 

Another possibility is one person enjoys staying up late while their partner prefers to go to bed early.  

Dr. Roth said no one should feel bad or guilty about needing to sleep in a separate bed. 

Getting enough sleep is important for our health. 

“If you are sleep deprived for any reason, you’re not getting enough sleep, your mental health is going to suffer, your physical health is going to suffer,” she said. “It’s going to be that much harder to do things during the day, and I think it causes some resentment in relationships when one person is a good sleeper but they’re disrupting the other person’s sleep.”

If snoring is a big reason why you and your partner sleep in separate beds, it’s probably worth consulting with a doctor. 

Snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, which is when a person repeatedly starts and stops breathing while asleep. 

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