It may be hard to believe, but the fact is that wedding dichotomy is changing, and several studies done by the National Sleep Foundation reveal that between 12% and 25% of married couples are sleeping separately. These studies also show that the trend is on the rise, moving to 13% between 2001 and 2008. We explore....
A growing trend
"There many couples sleeping separately these days," says Dr. Sharmishtha Verma, psychiatrist. She further shares, "One of my friends constantly complained that her hubby shudders himself awake at night. Her problem was severe as he did this some 20 times an hour. She finally declared that she just couldn't sleep with her husband and this resulted in a major marital ruckus. They finally came to me and we worked out an accommodating separate sleep schedule."
Our lives are fairly fast paced and demanding and to function well professionally, getting a good night's rest is very important. What is interesting is that nowadays builders are accommodating this lifestyle change in the home scenario. "There is a huge demand of homes that boast of a second master bedroom. Note that a guest room was never required to be as lavish as a bedroom. So, this suite is mainly required to accommodate couples who can not share a bed overnight," shares a Noida-based builder on condition of anonymity.
Even scientifically speaking, a recent study conducted by Sleep and Biological Rhythms states that women sleep less soundly when they share a bed with a romantic partner. Surprisingly, men actually sleep better when they sleep next to a woman.
Reasons for sleeping separately
Stress, different work schedules, snoring, tossing and turning are some of the most common reasons for Does sleeping separately deteriorate the bond between partners? (Getty Images)
couples to prefer their respective space.
Manjula Karkun says she sleeps in her own bedroom at least five nights a week. Married since last 9 years, Manjula and Sriram have two children. Manjula explains that with the birth of her first baby, she became a light sleeper as she got into the habit of tending to her newborn throughout the night. Sriram, on the other hand, remains a heavy sleeper. Sriram insists that he didn't feel rejected when his wife proposed that they maintain separate bedrooms. And since then, they've been living happily ever after.
Dr. A. K Singh highlights another reason behind refusal for sharing the same bed, "Some people feel their best in the morning and some are hyper in the evening. This can cause either of the partners to extend their normal waking times and burn the candle at both ends. Having separate bedrooms often helps people manage their biological clocks better."
Our work trends seem to making us all the more intolerable towards disturbances once we retire to bed. "Today's work trends say you'll be working until you are in your 70s. Moreover split shifts and night shifts are the way many industries function. So, if you work a different time than the traditional nine-to-five workday, it may be a benefit for you and your partner to have separate rooms. It totally works for me," shares Om Dev Burman, an industrialist married for the past five years.
Isn't it true that many issues are brought to the surface and discussed in bed, where physical proximity encourages intimate discussion? "Being in bed together means that sooner or later, you will probably have to deal with something because somebody is in that last quarter of an inch and you say, 'Honey, what's the problem?'" says graphic designer Sirat Chauhan.
Certainly, sleeping separately can help you score more Z's. But is sleeping alone romantic? When we asked Sriram if he feels it's important for him to sleep with his wife right next to him, he confesses, "Well, I'd say that there are trade-offs there. What we're getting back is a much higher quality relationship. We put the kids to bed and we have several hours together where we both rest and talk about the day, cuddle up on the sofa and plan our future dates."
While sleeping separately doesn't necessarily imply a sexless marriage, the question remains is this healthy or contradictory to the doctrine of the institution of marriage. Does it deteriorate the bond between partners?
"If familiarity breeds contempt, then having separate places to retreat means that you're more likely to appreciate each other when you do get together," argues Ambika Thakur, married and sleeping separately since the last 7 years. She cites several other advantages: Your husband still picks you up for a date, you have permanent "his" and "hers" bathrooms, you can keep your place as messy or as neat as you like.
Likewise, if you choose to sleep separately, you don't have to put up with your partner's blanket stealing, kicking and other annoying sleep habits. But the deal is that you do miss out on the snuggling.
Couples who keep separate rooms may get plenty of sleep, but are they getting anything else - like sex? Does sleeping separately deteriorate the bond between partners? (Getty Images)
"Absolutely", asserts Joyjeet Bannerjee, husband of a sleepy slugger. "We create time for each other and to be honest, it's pretty romantic. We're both awake for one thing, as compared to people who think they've been intimate, but have actually slept during the performance."
Sleeping together involves more than just sleeping. Couples usually talk, make love and cuddle, all of which can help to build closeness. There may be practical reasons for sleeping apart, but does it lessen intimacy? According to sex therapist Vijyant Verma, the answer is a big "no." He points out that while sleeping singly has the potential to strain a relationship, couples can make up for it by paying attention to each other while awake.
Vijayant further recommends spending some time together in bed before separating for sleep, and suggests that surprise visits can add to the spice factor. "We are very creative with our sex life," echoes Ambika in the same voice. "It is not required to happen in a bed."
However, Dr. Sharmishtha highlights her concerns regarding such arrangements saying, "A number of issues come into play in a situation like this. After all, physical proximity, which does not always involve sex, is equally important for a relationship. A healthy relationship isn't just about sex."
"There's something nice about the warmth of a human body next to you, even if you're not sleeping as well," says Vandita Mishr, who has slept apart from her husband for the last seven of her 11-year marriage. "When you're in bed together you're in a little, private space on your own time. Cuddling up on the sofa with the TV on isn't the same."
Sleep disturbance can indubitably be a source of tension between spouses. Remember that exhausted, cranky people do not always get along with each other as well as they might do when relaxed and revitalised. So let's hear it for the separate sleep bargain whose solitary purpose is to bring couples closer together!
6 months ago