Want a healthier relationship and better intimacy? One sex expert says the trick is sleeping in separate beds.
Writer Rachel Kramer Bussel, author of Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples, claims her relationship with her live-in boyfriend drastically improved when they stopped sharing the bed. “We figured out early on that we just weren’t compatible sleeping next to each other,” Kramer Bussel told Yahoo Health. “Neither of us slept well, we were grouchy, and we were meaner to each other because of it.”
And she’s not alone: Various new research has found that 11% to 40% of couples sleep apart at night. And earlier studies found that it can be bad for your health — and makes your sleep quality up to 50% worse.
After a miserable first night in a hotel this May, Kramer Bussel says the next night she grabbed the comforter and happily fell asleep in the bathtub. It was a revelation. So when they started looking for apartments together, they only considered two-bedrooms. “Once we realized it wasn’t working and that we could easily have separate bedrooms, we did it,” she adds. “The rest of our relationship and daily lives are predicated on sleeping well.”
Surprisingly, it’s made their relationship more intimate, not less. “I never feel ‘separate’ from my boyfriend,” she says, adding that they kiss goodnight and good morning and say they love each other all the time.
Having separate bedrooms can enhance intimacy, she notes, since “when we are in bed together, almost always in his room, that it’s our time to be with each other, not just a generic time to go to a bed that we happen to share … We’re there because we both want to be there.”
It’s also worked for Jennifer Adams and her husband, who have slept apart for 11 years and counting. “Is that really the only thing that allows you to have sex?” Adams, author of Sleeping Apart, Not Falling Apart, told the Chicago Tribune. “Sometimes my husband will FaceTime me and invite me to bed … It doesn’t stop you from having sex. It just doesn’t.”
She says that it’s given them a stronger level of communication — and a better night’s rest. “We’ve just kept talking,” she says, adding they’ve proved many doubting family and friends wrong. “And we still hop into each other’s beds, and I’ll lie in his bed at night until he kicks me out at 8:30 because he wants to go to sleep. You make it work because you want to make it work.”
And Kramer Bussel says that she, at least, hasn’t encountered too many doubters. “Maybe because we are clearly in love and affectionate with each other, I think people can tell that ‘separate bedrooms’ isn’t code for ‘relationship problems.'”