NEW STUDY SUGGESTS OVER A THIRD OF AMERICANS HAVE A “SLEEP DIVORCE”
Have you heard of the term “sleep divorce?”
By Lauren McKeithen
A recently released survey from The American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that over a third of American adults say they sleep separately from their partner or in another room consistently or occasionally in a practice known as “sleep divorce” to improve their nightly sleep.
The survey, conducted online between March 24-29, includes responses from 2,005 adults asking if they adjust their sleep routine “to accommodate a bed partner.” Examples of adjustments include using eye masks or ear plugs, sleeping in another room either consistently or occasionally, going to sleep later or earlier and using an alarm.
While 42 percent of respondents said, they didn’t adjust their sleeping routine, over half admitted to making adjustments, including a collective 35 percent who said they either consistently or occasionally sleep in another room in their home. Some 20 percent of respondents reported occasionally sleeping in another room, while 15 percent said they did it consistently. The study found that men are most likely to find solace from their partners in a guest room or on the sofa. Nearly half of males reported that they occasionally or consistently sleep in another room, compared to 25 percent of women.
Forty-three percent of millennials between ages 27 and 42 told pollsters that they sleep in another part of the house either consistently or occasionally, making them the most likely age group to do so. Smaller shares of Gen X aged 43-58, the youngest group of American adults known as Gen Z, baby boomers between 59 and 76, and the oldest group of Americans known as the Silent Generation practice “sleep divorce.”
AASM Pulmonologist and Spokesperson Dr. Seema Khosla said in a statement, “Although the term ‘sleep divorce’ seems harsh, it really just means that people are prioritizing sleep and moving into a separate room at night when needed. However, if it is one partner’s loud snoring that is leading to separate sleep spaces, then you should encourage that partner to talk to a doctor about obstructive sleep apnea. This applies to both men and women who may snore.”
The survey results suggest that sleeping in separate beds, a longstanding practice of the English upper class, could be on the rise. Results of a 2017 survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that almost one in four married couples already slept in separate beds. Some mental health experts believe sleeping separately could help couples improve their relationship as more people are open to the idea for differing reasons, including improved sleep.
In an interview with The Well, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Jessy Warner-Cohen said prioritizing sleep is the healthiest move anyone can make. She said, “Sleep is important to maintaining overall health, including emotional health. Chronic sleep deprivation puts you at risk for car accidents, weight gain, poorer immune response, increased blood pressure, diabetes, depression, irritability, anxiety and forgetfulness.”
Dr. Khosla agreed, asserting that poor sleep can worsen your mood, and the sleep-deprived are more likely to argue with their partners. She also added that there could be resentment toward the partner, causing sleep disruption and negatively impacting relationships. She said that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for happiness and health, so it’s unsurprising that some couples choose to sleep separately for their overall well-being.
Sleeping away from your partner may sound strange, but some benefits exist. If you’re having trouble sleeping in the same bed as your partner, try a “sleep divorce” and see if that changes.