Why are couples sleeping apart?

According to our goodtoknow poll, 50% of you sleep apart from your partner. We look into why so many couples are sleeping separately

(Image credit: Courtesy Everett Collection / Re)

We all crave a good night's sleep. But, for many of us, that solid eight-hour kip is nothing more than a dream. According to a recent gtk poll, half of you are so desperate to get some decent shut eye, you're choosing to sleep apart from your partner.

But why has this become necessary? Is is a good idea? And will it damage a relationship in the long-run?

We've spoken to a sleep and relationship expert to get to the bottom of this new bedroom trend.

What's causing the problem?

Psychologist and sleep expert, Chireal Shallow, explains some of the reasons couples are deciding to sleep apart:

Poor sleeping habits: Let's face it. As much as we love our other halves the snoring, duvet hogging and talking in the sleep can get a bit much. This is quite a common reason for couples to opt to sleep separately.

A new baby: When the new bundle of joy arrives it can sometimes put a strain on your relationship. Couples are beating sleep deprivation by choosing to sleep separately so that the mother can tend to the baby's needs, allowing the father to rest so he can leave for work or vice versa.

Shift patterns: If your partner is working shifts there's nothing worse than being woken up at 5am when you don't need to be up for another few hours. Some couples with different working lives are sleeping separately to ease the pressure.

Our sleep expert explained the only situation where it might have a negative impact on your relationship is when one person has suggested sleeping apart and an agreement has been forced. Or, if it continues for longer than the agreed amount of time it may cause additional pressures on the relationship.

'In different times in people's lives, sleep may become more important than physical intimacy, but this can and may shift over time as work, families, and environmental issues change.'

'It's important to remember that we are all different and being close to someone can happen throughout the day, there are many ways to demonstrate closeness. Sleeping with someone can bring you closer and may be enjoyable. However, it doesn't work for everyone and finding a solution that does work and gets you rest and intimacy when wanted is the preferred choice.'

Is sleeping apart a good idea?

Our relationship expert, Christina Gordon, says that couples sleeping apart is not 'disastrous if one person snores, fidgets or worse - sleeping separately can be the sensible option.'

'However, if one person in the relationship objects or feels rejected by this then it could be harmful to the relationship. Also couples who choose to sleep apart need to take extra steps to continue with intimacy and make sure their sexual relationship doesn't suffer. Being creative about venues or timings of sexual contact can be helpful in a relationship.'

'The key is good communication, if one person is avoiding sex by sleeping separately then I think this should be addressed. However, if both people are happy with the arrangement and continue to make time for intimacy then it can work well.'

Sleeping apart - your stories

We asked on Facebook if you and your partner sleep apart, here's what you told us:

Jane A: 'Yes me and my hubby haven't shared a room in 7 years and it works great, we both get a good nights sleep and are both happier for it, if it's not broke don't fix it. We always have cuddles in the others bed in the mornings so nothing is ever lost.'

Anne H: 'Yes, regularly. Snoring, throwing the covers off, grabbing all the covers for yourself, are but a few of the reasons. :)'

Souzana P: 'Yes, especially as we get older and snoring as well as insomnia get involved...'

Penny G: 'Always!' Beverley Drake: 'It's the only way to get a good night's sleep... without the fidget monster next to me.'

Sandra W: 'Defo thinking about it - he gets restless legs and does Riverdance most nights, along with snoring. Annoyingly he also falls asleep within 2 minutes of hitting the pillow and I'm left laying awake for hours.' Julie-Liz S: 'Unfortunately we don't have the chance to sleep apart, there are now children in the once spare room. He snores, talks in his sleep, moves around loads, kicks and punches me! Best nights sleep I ever had was on the sofa, didn't have to wake up every 10 mins to batter him with my pillow!!

Lynn W: 'For last seven years.'

Cole M: 'My partner and I have slept apart for our entire relationship (9 years) and we're much better for it. I definitely advocate the separate beds idea!'

What do you think? Tell us on our Facebook page

Where to next?

- How to find the perfect bed - Take our sleep test - Summer sleep help

Special thanks to contributors Christina Gordon, Couple Counsellor and Sex Therapist and Chireal Shallow, Psychologist and Sleep Expert for advice service Greatvine.com.