Maybe it was his snoring. Or her blanket-hogging. Or that tossing and turning he does whenever he has a nightmare about evil clowns. Whatever it was, you’ve woken up feeling like you haven’t slept a wink all night.
If that scenario sounds familiar, you’re probably also familiar with how the rest of your day goes after a sleepless night: you’re grumpy, lethargic, and—yep, it’s not just your imagination—prone to picking more fights with your significant other. A new study recently found that even one night of bad sleep quality can increase relationship conflict the next day—the worse couples slept, the less empathy they showed towards their partner, the more negativity they felt about the relationship, the harder they found it to resolve differences, and the more selfish feelings they had.
So what are the snorers and tossers and turners of the world to do? Sleep in separate beds, according to some recent research. Banishing one person to sleep on the couch may seem like the end-result of sleep-deprived bickering, but a study from Ryerson University in Toronto claims it may actually solve your issues.
According to this study, 30 to 40 percent of couples already sleep apart (who knew?)… and they’re better off for it. Brain monitoring during sleep found that couples who share a bed don’t slip into the deep stages of sleep, whereas those who sleep apart do. Deep sleep is what helps restore your energy, boost your immune system, repair muscles and tissues, and stimulate growth and development. So constantly getting woken up by your partner during this stage can lead to feeling mentally and physically sluggish the next day.
Of course, there’s still a stigma to pulling a Lucy and Ricky Ricardo come nighttime, and some think that separate beds is a sign of a troubled relationship. But Colleen Carney, the director of Ryerson University’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory urges couples to ignore the taboo and try it if they feel they could benefit. “People can have very good and satisfying relationships sleeping apart,” Carney says. “Some people might be headed to divorce and then they actually sleep apart and find this new way to connect.”
Would you sleep in separate beds from your partner for the sake of deep sleep?