For me, there are few things more infuriating in this life than a noisy sleep environment. Let me paint you a picture: It’s 3 a.m., I have just laid back down after peeing for the sixth time since going to bed at 11:30 p.m. and have reluctantly switched to my left side because my right side is numb again (Yes, I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant and it’s a magical time). As I settle into my 7-year-old special Brookstone neck pillow and begin to drift back to sleep, several horrendous, loud honking sounds (think a goose in pain) escape my husband lying next to me who has been passed out cold since the second his head hit the pillow at 1:30 a.m. As much as I love my husband, the father of my unborn daughter, I am fighting the urge to smother him with every fiber in my body.
Apparently, I’m far from alone. According to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 1 out of 4 American couples are opting for separate beds or separate bedrooms, making the concept seem more “Modern Family” than “Leave It To Beaver.” The New York Times also did a study this year in collaboration with the “Today” show on the topic, reporting that by 2015, 60 percent of custom homes are expected to feature dual master bedrooms.
Sleep expert Amy Korn-Reavis told me couples are choosing not to sleep together for lots of reasons ranging from health issues (snoring, apnea, recurrent insomnia, restless limb syndrome) to differences in routines and work shifts. While the stigma tends to be that separate sleeping arrangements equals problems in the relationship, it seems like we’re just wising up.
“As we as a culture are becoming more educated about sleep and health, spouses are deciding it is better to sleep in separate beds rather than sacrifice a good night’s sleep,” she said.
It is a comfort to me to have my husband lying next to me at night, but I put a premium on sleep and have no problem kicking him to the office couch if his BreatheRight strip isn’t doing its job. Couples make their own rules in so many aspects of relationships these days that I say ignore the old school relative of yours who’s telling you your twosome is doomed if you don’t get your sleep in a conventional way. After all, sneaking into your partner’s bed in the middle of the night can make you feel like teenagers again.