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Are Separate Beds the Secret of a Happy Relationship?
Are Separate Beds the Secret of a Happy Relationship?

The sawing snoring next to you, your elbow in the pit of your stomach, constant tossing around. The solution for a more restful sleep - and a better partnership - could be the so-called "Sleep Divorce".

Are Separate Beds the Secret of a Happy Relationship?
Are Separate Beds the Secret of a Happy Relationship?

Maybe Lily Aldrin and Marshall Eriksen from the cult series "How I Met Your Mother" were on to something: "Let's buy single beds!", the two decide namely in one of the episodes. And this relationship trend is currently of interest to more and more couples.

For most couples, the common bed stands for intimacy and togetherness. According to studies, however, there is reason to believe that separate bedrooms are the real key to a successful relationship - and a good night's sleep. This is how the Sleep Divorce is portrayed in the sitcom.

In the said episode, Lily and Marshall are forced to sleep in single beds while on vacation. At first outraged, the couple soon realized the advantages of the separate beds and slept through their entire stay in the sheer relaxation. Back at home, they are still completely sleep-euphoric and get single beds for home.

Separate bedrooms as marriage savers?

"We have just revolutionized modern marriage," the two series characters agree - and they are not wrong.

It makes perfect sense: Disturbing noises, to and fro at night, different sleep rhythms and temperature requirements - all of this leads to poor sleep hygiene in the long run. As a result, the marital bed can become a breeding ground for sexual dysfunction and strife in the relationship.

A study by the Medical University of Nuremberg confirms this. Sleep and relationship problems would usually occur simultaneously. Research by the University of California shows that there are more arguments in relationships if one person's sleep is disturbed by the other.


Unfortunately it often happens that the (resulting) sleep disorders are accused of each other, says Barbara Galla, a psychotherapist from Vienna. Among other things, she has specialized in couples therapy: "This circumstance leads to stress in the relationship and from my point of view it can only be resolved with difficulty. First of all, the lack of sleep that has resulted in emotional fluctuations, which makes the situation even worse. From my experience I know that couples don't talk about it constructively, but often subtly accuse each other of the burdens. " This creates a vicious circle from which it is difficult to break out.

Shared bed as a health risk?

And even your health could suffer. Those who are often woken up at night hardly spend any time in deep sleep, which results in less restful sleep. It is precisely this healthy sleep that is urgently needed for the body's nocturnal self-healing powers. Insufficient sleep also has a negative impact on weight and the immune system, leading to headaches, and mood swings.

Conversely, this means: Those who are rested have their life and thus their relationships better under control, are more balanced and do not harbor any grudges because they are constantly being torn from their sleep by their partner. Author Jennifer Adams confirms this in her book "Sleeping Apart Not Falling Apart". The American has been spending her nights happily in a sleep-divorce for over 15 years: "It's great when a couple likes to sleep together and doesn't bother each other. But it doesn't mean that they have a better relationship than people who have separate beds prefer."

"Sleep deprivation is like torture!"

We asked three couples who already live this form of sleep - and love it. Esther Rois-Merz and her husband, for example, have been relying on the sleep divorce for years. Why? Because the 41-year-old's peace and quiet is sacred: "My husband sometimes snores very loudly. Even with earplugs I would have a poorer quality of sleep. So at some point I insisted on having separate rooms." If you need to snuggle up, you can visit each other, she smiles.

For make-up artist Regina Tichy, the "Sleep Divorce" concept is still new. And that, although ex-partners already snored and brought them to sleep: "They would never have accepted that." This is exactly why it works now, Tichy is sure: "Sleep deprivation is like torture. In the long run it has a negative effect on every relationship …"

That is why Brigitta Höpler from Vienna regularly emigrates from the common bed: "This is how we both sleep deeply and well. And still or because of that we have a really good time together."

And what about the sex?

But doesn't sex fall by the wayside in the end? Couples therapist Galla gives the all-clear: "From my point of view, the need for sexuality is a mirror of the respective relationship and has nothing to do with separate bedrooms. If a partnership is good, harmonious and authentic and the other can live their needs, sex life also works mostly good - no matter where."

For whom the concept of "separate beds" is suitable

So why don't we ALL sleep in two beds long ago? On the one hand, there is often a lack of implementation because there is simply not enough space; on the other hand, the separate bedrooms are also a question of type. For some of the women we asked, the very thought of it is unimaginable. "Falling asleep separately? Waking up separately? And then being apart all day? There is too much 'in common' for me," it said. Or "Even after 30 years we still sleep snuggled together. I wouldn't want to miss that!"

What does the psychotherapist Barbara Galla say about it? In particular, long-term relationships could (nevertheless) do you good: "Living the respective needs individually becomes more and more important and if the need is discussed constructively, it is often easy to live with." It is definitely worth a try, especially for sleep-plagued people. As long as the desire for more bed freedom is communicated respectfully and honestly, nothing can actually go wrong, according to the expert.

And by the way: Marshall and Lily can't stand it in the end without each other and quickly flit under a blanket again …

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