• Sleep divorce occurs when couples start sleeping in separate beds, and in many cases, separate rooms, as well.
  • Though it sounds negative, sleep divorce isn’t always an indicator that a relationship is on the rocks.
  • The practice may be beneficial for some couples, especially for light sleepers, those who are sleep deprived, or who have different work schedules.
  • In some cases, though, sleep divorce can cause tension, anxiety, depression, and the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, especially if it’s done to spite a partner.
  • If you or your significant other are interested in sleep divorce, it’s best to talk amongst yourselves before trying it. With the right approach, it could offer benefits to both your quality of sleep and mental health.

Despite what it sounds like, sleep divorce doesn’t always spell the end of a relationship. It’s what happens when one or both partners decide to sleep in separate beds. As controversial as it sounds, it’s actually pretty common. 

But does sleep divorce truly spell the end of a relationship? And should you take things as far as to get a divorce if your partner won’t sleep in the same bed? 

What Is a Sleep Divorce?

As pointed out above, sleep divorce is not as frightening or scary as it sounds. This typically occurs in long-term relationships, like a marriage, where one or both people involved sleep in separate beds, separate rooms, or have different sleep schedules. 

It does not mean that they are actually getting divorced from each other and can even make a relationship stronger. But not always. It can make some partners upset when their loved one decides to take space for their own needs, and when anger or fear arises, it’s important to listen fully to your partner’s reasons for the sleep divorce. 

Sleep divorce might occur due to:

  • A partner’s snoring
  • Untreated sleepwalking
  • A newborn baby or infant who requires constant care throughout the night
  • One or more partners tossing and turning, keeping one or both people awake
  • Unresolved tension in the relationship
  • A lack of sexual desire for one’s partner, or as a result of a medication such as an antidepressant
  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression
  • Body image issues

If your relationship is currently going through a sleep divorce, don’t panic — instead, talk with your loved one about their reasons for sleeping apart from you. Even though you might not like what you hear, speculating or retaliating against them won’t help you feel better, and certainly won’t fix the relationship, either.   

Is It Healthy for Couples to Sleep Divorce?

Sleep divorce can be healthy for couples if it improves one or both partners’ sleep quality, well-being, and their relationship’s health. Sometimes, couples find it difficult to sleep together due to various reasons including snoring, working different shifts, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, as previously mentioned. 

Additionally, If you or your partner are sleep deprived, then it may be healthier (at least in the short term) for you to to consider and discuss sleeping apart as a couple. Restorative sleep is important for physical and mental health. 

That being said, it is also important to be sure to schedule time for date nights, sexual intimacy, and the opportunity to talk with each other before retiring to your beds.

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What Percentage of Married Couples Don’t Sleep Together? 

According to a 2017 National Sleep Foundation survey cited by NBC, almost one in four couples sleep in separate beds. The practice is becoming more commonly accepted, but if it happens suddenly, or is done out of anger, sleep divorce can potentially cause a huge rift in a relationship. 

Should I Divorce My Wife for Not Sleeping with Me? 

A sleep divorce doesn’t necessarily warrant a real divorce. Don’t react with anger if your partner decides to sleep alone. Even if their decision to separate themselves from you is done to upset you, you’ll only add fuel to the fire by responding in turn. 

Wait patiently for them to talk with you about what’s troubling them—or better yet—talk with a marriage or relationship counselor about what’s going on. 

What Happens When Couples Stop Sleeping Together?

There isn’t a very simple and easy answer to what happens when couples stop sleeping together. There are very few studies on if sleeping with your partner is beneficial or not and depends on why they make this decision.  

If one partner is sleep deprived and suffering mentally and physically because of it, then sleep divorce may be the best solution. Sleep deprivation is linked to many life-threatening conditions including: 

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity 

On the other hand, when couples stop sleeping together, particularly if the sleep divorce happens on bad terms, they risk: 

  • Eliminating the natural bonding that occurs during sexual intimacy 
  • Lowered self-esteem 
  • Developing feelings of loneliness and isolation

There may be changes you’ve been refusing to make or behaviors that have pushed your partner away from you, but without talking through the situation, it’s not a good idea to speculate. You might have done nothing wrong; and with the right approach, a temporary or permanent sleep divorce could be the solution to your relationship’s issues. 

How Do You Know When Your Marriage Is Over? Does a Sleep Divorce Spell Doom? 

According to one of the most popular relationship counseling methods, the Gottman Method, the single greatest predictor of the end of a marriage or divorce is contempt in the relationship. Contempt can involve: 

  • Disrespect
  • Sarcasm
  • Ridicule
  • Name-calling
  • Eye-rolling
  • And mockery

When these issues are present alongside a sleep divorce, a relationship could very well be in trouble. Communication, physical intimacy, and sexual satisfaction are perhaps the most important aspects of a healthy long-term relationship. 

But sleep divorce can still be an unconventional way for couples to improve their sleep hygiene and romantic relationship, with the right approach. Talk with a professional if you and your partner aren’t seeing eye to eye when it comes to sleeping apart from each other.