Do you sleep in the same bed as your partner or in separate rooms?
If you do sleep separately, the reason might not be that the relationship has broken down — it could be just a matter of convenience.
One partner might do shift work, someone snores while the other is a light sleeper, or perhaps you’re a doona stealer.
With 75 per cent of people having trouble falling asleep according to an ABC sleep survey, separate beds might just be the answer to a good night’s sleep.
Jacqueline Hallyer, a clinical psychosexual therapist and relationships coach, said there was no point being in the same bed together if there were “negative vibes going on”.
“A lot of people will take it as a sign of rejection if they’re not [sleeping] together,” she said.
“The question is not should you sleep in the same bed together, but what does it mean to you and how can you get your needs met?”
Ms Hallyer said the most important aspect of a relationship was to have enough “skin-to-skin contact” and to find ways to “connect” in bed or out.
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“There’s so many health benefits and emotional benefits to being able to spend time with your beloved and all your loved ones … where you’re actually touching, where you’re gazing into each other’s eyes, where you’re just being close to each other.”
“It reduces your stress levels, your cortisol levels go down, it increases your immune functioning, it makes you feel more secure in life so there’s less anxiety.”
“There’s so many benefits to it that it’s important that you find somewhere to do it and generally sleeping together is the easiest way to do it.”
What works best for the couple?
702 ABC Sydney caller Linda said she and her husband moved into separate rooms once their children left home.
She said the decision was made by her initially because she was having trouble sleeping due to her husband’s snoring.
“I don’t believe it’s impacted on our intimacy,” Linda said.
“I have this really nice room now that’s my little room and I keep it really tidy with little stuff.
“And my husband has this boy’s room with his telescope and his science books and chess game and it’s his little place, and I have my little place.
“There’s no competition for the room anymore. It’s a really nice thing to have our own little spaces.”
Jon Eggins said he and his wife had been sleeping separately after the birth of their now 18-month-old baby.
However, the arrangement has had a negative effect on him.
“Initially I slept in the spare bedroom only, but we found that I became somewhat disconnected and generally intolerant of invasion of my space.
“We now sleep together again except during bouts of snoring or excessive flatulence.
“I would say that the marriage bed has to be the rule and not the exception.”
Another person texted to say that over 45 years of marriage, there had been times spent in separate beds due to snoring or parenting issues.
“Sleeping with your partner — it varies over the life course of your relationship.
“Now we love sleeping back together — the warmth, cuddling and waking with someone is wonderful, mixed with listening to ABC radio through the night!”
Finding a mutual solution
Ms Hallyer said it was important to make a decision that was right for both people and to not feel that you need to be in the same bed together every night.
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Some couples, for example, start the night together before graduating to their own rooms while others make sure they jump into bed together in the mornings.
“Humans are very social animals and skin contact is really important to us,” Ms Hallyer said.
“Countless studies show that people with skin contact are healthier and happier.
“If you’ve got a good relationship, and there’s plenty of contact and you spend quality time together, you may not need to be in the same bed together night after night.”