July 25, 2010

Is it important to sleep through the night in the same bed with your mate?

A lot of people don't. There's snoring. Inconsistent habits having to do with TV/computers/iPhones. Keeping different hours. Let's assume a solid couple, really committed and loving. What's wrong with separate rooms if it helps you both get a good night's sleep... and a chance to do other things you like?
Paul C. Rosenblatt, a psychiatry professor at the University of Minnesota, interviewed 42 couples for his book “Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing” and came to some surprising conclusions.

Co-sleeping is better for your health. His subjects mentioned seizures, diabetic shock and other medical emergencies that would have gone undetected if not for a proximate partner.

Co-sleeping is better for your sex life. “I talked to plenty of men (and women) who think that sexual intercourse is far more frequent if they have access to their partner,” Dr. Rosenblatt said. “If you want it, share a bed.”

Co-sleeping is better for your security. Women, in particular, feel safer from intruders when sleeping with another person.
I'm not sure those reasons are really that great. Is frequency even the right test of how good your "sex life" is? Frequency gained by simple access because you're in the same bed? I think it's nice to have enough room in your house or apartment so there is a separate bed to go to if you want it. It's nice to know you're sleeping together because that's what you want, and it's nice, when you are sleeping together to know there's somewhere else to sleep (or sit up reading/watching TV/hanging out on line) if that would feel better.


David said...

It's comfy (usually) except when she snores too loud.

Me, I never snore.

TRO said...

Based on my extensive survey (two couples I know well) sleeping separately is not a sign of a good marriage. In fact, it's just the opposite. Of course these folks are in their late-30s/early-40s and maybe when you've been married 50 years it isn't as important, but I'm thinking Rosenblatt is correct in this, if not for exactly the reasons he listed.

Bob_R said...

I don't think much of his list of advantages compared to a good night's sleep for both of you. I guess if you have to make due with two single beds because of space or money it can be a drag on your sex life unless you are in to doing it in the kitchen. For people with snoring problems, or light sleepers, or very different sleep cycles different beds or rooms can make sense.

Bob_R said...

@TRO - Correlation/causation. Not enjoying physical contact with your spouse is bad for a marriage. I don't believe it is caused by sleeping in separate beds - at least if my memories of my days before marriage are any indication.

traditionalguy said...

The threefold cord of a marriage leads to wanting to be with each other. The real question is whether or not the cat and the dog sleep in separate beds from us.

GMay said...

"Is frequency even the right test of how good your "sex life" is?"

I wouldn't say it's the only factor, but it's pretty damn important I think. Great sex once a year doesn't beat average sex once a week. YMMV

Of course this depends on age and how compatible the other's sex drive is with your own.

Suburbanbanshee said...

Symbolically, it's probably better to have a comfy couch or chair for sleeping apart, rather than a whole separate bedroom.

Of course, I'm probably prejudiced towards this because my mother is not a good sleeper, and spent a lot of insomniac nights on the couch. Usually she started the night or finished the night in bed with Dad, though. My parents have been happily married for almost 50 years.

The health thing is real, though. During perimenopause, my mom had a lot of bad seizures at night, and wouldn't have known what was going on if Dad hadn't been there to witness it.

Re: alternate sleeping -- of course, in the summer, there's always the floor in the living room. Not used as much now, with a/c, but still a valid choice.

Life in the Fifties said...

@traditional guy - sometime the cats and dogs keep the marriage bed intact. If I have to choose between a snoring spouse, or waking the dog by roaming to another bed, I'll take the snoring.

edutcher said...

The Romans were big believers in separate beds in separate rooms. Judge for yourself if that worked.

PS Agree with tg. A lot of this is how much you want to be with him/her.

Allison said...

Speaking as a 37 year old woman married to a 35 year old man with two kids, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old boy, 10 minutes of love making 6 times a week is a heck of a lot better for me and my marriage than 60 minutes of love making once a week.

My husband and I are in that bizarre musical beds era where the children crawl into ours, so someone crawls to stop being kicked in the head, or tries to put the kids back to theirs and falls asleep there in the process. His job also requires being awake early and going to be late, so we don't cosleep as much as we'd like. But waking up together makes me feel much happier than waking up alone.

Irene said...

This topic made me think of a post from yesterday, namely the one about asking children interesting questions. "Do you think parents should sleep together?"

When I was a kid, my parents socialized with several couples who slept in separate beds. As a child, I found this very peculiar. The thought of married persons sleeping apart struck me as, well, unnatural. Even as a little girl, I sensed that there was something profoundly "off" about the arrangements and the relationships. Turns out, I was right.

As a married adult, I think a better night's rest might be found in separate beds. The comfort of having one's soulmate nearby at night, however, when death seems so tangible, is comforting. Perhaps that's the result of having been near death.

The dogs are another matter.

Texan99 said...

I'd miss him terribly if I slept apart, that's all. We don't always go to bed or get up at the same time, but there's always some overlap. We both snore like freight trains and both learned to ignore it many years ago.

kate said...

i can't sleep very well without my husband. he can sleep anywhere but feels like he's a bit lost if i am away. :)

Meerkat said...

What if I have a seizure in the bathroom? Should we do that together, too? That's a common place to have a stroke, too! C'mon, honey.

We prefer separate beds because we both sleep better. Sleeping well makes me happy! Being woken up all night long by my husband doing his sleep calisthenics makes me resent him!

I think the study sounds simplistic.

HDHouse said...

We now share the bed with a dog and a cat. The dog snores. There is no room. The cat sleeps on the outside of me away from the dog and I get clawed if I try and move let alone make a bathroom trip.

Help. I've fallen and I can't get up.

HDHouse said...


prefectly understood. once a night we just touch each other just to make sure the other is there and alive and ok. it means a great deal.

RuyDiaz said...

They are forgetting about affection. From my perspective, if you love your sweetheart, you want to be close to her.

vet66 said...

I suggest a King Size bed. Leaves plenty of room for maneuvering asleep or otherwise. Most people are down for the count during REM sleep. It might help to turn off I-POD etc.

Sleeping together brings more peaceful sleep.

k*thy said...

We always start out together, but some restless nights will send one of us to the guest room. We're a pretty solid couple and have decided that a good night's sleep is a pretty good investment to that end.

BTW, very early in the marriage, I politely forever banned tv's from our bedroom, after having seen my MIL having to cope with a tv-watching night owl.

Pogo said...

If you don't sleep
beside your love,
you will not grow desire,
nor become entwined
in a true lover's knot
her red rose and your briar.

Lockestep said...

The missing word from the survey is spontaneity. Hard to have rollover sex if you are in different rooms.

tim maguire said...

I would sleep better if I slept alone. But sleeping apart would do too much damage to the intimacy of my relationship with my wife.

Should sleeping together be important to intimacy? I don't know, but it is. I think my marriage would be more likely to end in divorce if I slept better.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Its a tough one.

Sleeping apart does minimize the chance for spontaneous love making.

On the other hand, if you can't sleep because one or the other or both of you are snoring, tossing, turning, laying there wide awake it doesn't make for a restful night or a healthy life.

My husband has a bad shoulder and a hard day of work will aggravate the condition. Rather than sleeping together, I will sleep in the guest room/office so he can sleep without pain or he will get up and go into the living room and sleep in a comfy chair that takes pressure off of his shoulder.

There is something comforting about being in the same bed and listening to the rhythmic breathing of your spouse. Not so much the snoring like a buzz saw.

Probably it is our age and the length of our marriage that makes it not such a big deal if we decide to sleep apart or get up in the middle of the night and move to another room. If this happened in the early stages of our marriage, it would be a bad sign. Now it is just a sign that we want a good night's sleep and/or don't want to prevent our partner from having the same.

I used to laugh at Lucy and Desi with their separate twin beds in the same room: and the "Good night Lucy" "Good night Desi" scene at the end of the show.

Now, I think it might be a pretty good idea. It's not that far from one bed to the other if you have the urge and both of you can get a good night's sleep if there is no urge.

holdfast said...

Any word on the effect of two medium-sized dogs who think the best, no the only, place to sleep is between the husband and wife?


Scott M said...

Is frequency even the right test of how good your "sex life" is?

Spoken like a true woman. You know, that half of the population that can, honestly, get laid any time they choose to do so.

Sharing a bed is one of those "far more than the sum of it's parts" things. There's intrinsically more involved that the simple space your body takes up at night and where that body lays its head.

Sharing a bed with your (wife in my case) is more than sex, more than sleep. It's more than where the 3-year-old groggily makes her way each and every night, only to be moved back in the wee hours.

It's security, but not the kind home defense and deadbolts give. It's sex, but not merely the physical act of copulation. In short, it's a comfort to that non-physical part of our beings that academically knows that we're bound to someone physically, emotionally, financially, and chronologically, but needs the reassurance that a good, healthy spooning renders.

Saint Croix said...

Is frequency even the right test of how good your "sex life" is?

Yes. Yes it is. Yep. The more you do it the better you get at it. But even if you suck at it, consistently, quantity is good. Quantity, quantity, quantity.

Sokmnkee said...

I want to sleep with my husband because I adore him. However, for years he snored so loudly and even quit breathing at times! I would lose sleep and be cranky, but didn't dare leave him there not breathing. He would then get ill at me for tickling his back to make him breathe. If your husband or wife is doing this, PLEASE get them to a sleep clinic and make sure they get treated for sleep apnea. It's so dangerous. My husband uses a C-PAP machine now and we both get a good night's sleep.

Ken Mitchell said...

Based on my sample size of two marriages, separation is a BAD thing.

My first wife decided that we needed separate beds after we had been together for about 8 years, and fell apart completely two years later.

My current wife (of 28 years) thinks that a king-sized bed would be too big, and would allow us to get too far apart during the night.

I think I'll keep this one.

Eric said...

I've never been married, but based on experience with girlfriends I suspect sleeping apart would make her feel like a roommate.

Mandy in Cincinnati said...

I can say that sleeping together does not encourage sex if one person never get's any sleep because of the other's night;y habits\behaviors. I am resentful and angry most mornings because my husband, who got a great night's sleep, snored coughed and thrashed about in the bed. We have not had sex in months and I am not willing to give up valuable real sleeping time for it.

niceguy said...

Married 12 yrs, 2 kids. Wife suggested I sleep in spare room when pregnant with last one, 'cos my snoring disturbed her. Eight yrs on, I'm still in the spare room. We have (brief) sex maybe once every 2-3 months, virtually no other intimacy. I'd be much happier in the same bed, with sex 2-3 times per week. Marriage now virtually at rock bottom, communication zero. Go figure.