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Sleep Divorce: Addressing Unique Sleep Needs




Sleep divorce is a term that describes couples that don’t share the same sleeping schedules

This week I had three people tell me they were divorcing their nightly sleep with their spouse.  They all cherished and admired the uniqueness and unpredictability of sleep, and it created a better relationship with their partner to respect those differences. Though it can take some trickery or hard work to deal with the changes knowing sleep is worth it.

It seems like less of an issue in heterosexual relationships because women are more prone to shift work which means many marriages involve “work shift” arrangements where one person typically works nights after another has worked days. It presents unique challenges though there are ways you can make them work for you too.

What is Sleep Divorce? 

Sleep Divorce is a term coined by Dr. Shawn Youngstedt of the Department of Family and Social Medicine at WMC Complementary Medical Center in Sacramento, CA to describe a situation where a married or cohabiting couple no longer shares the same bed that can fit two people. Typically this arises when one person in the relationship can’t sleep due to noise, allergies, asthma, incessant tossing and turning of their partner’s side of the bed, or other factors. According to Dr. Youngstedt’s research “sleep divorce” does not take much time for secondary health problems like high blood pressure and obesity to set in because restful sleep is crucial for both physical health, cognitive functioning, and emotional stability.

Pros of  Sleep Divorce

  • No longer have to worry about how little sleep they are getting or make apologies for poor performance or productivity at work, school, etc.  They tend to be more coherent and capable throughout the day.
  • Increased relationship satisfaction due to not being privy to their partner’s snoring, tossing, and turning during the night, waking up in the middle of the night with worries that can’t be resolved with one eye open.  The quality of their own sleep is overall improved as they do not suffer from tiredness any longer nor wake up feeling unrested thanks to escaping unwanted disturbances bedside by a sleeping spouse/partner who is already fast asleep when they want them most.
  • Once couples start to feel the effects of “broken sleep” they often make changes to their mattress and/or bedroom setup, which can save them hundreds of dollars.
  • Falling asleep too late in the day is not healthy for any individual, whether or not they are partnered with someone else. All-nighters are associated with impaired performance on emotional tests and reduced dopamine levels in brain imaging tests. It also means you’re likely to be sleep deprived when actively sleeping beside your partner because falling asleep earlier often shortens how long people spend in REM or complicated stages of non-REM sleep.
  • Sleep deprivation alters cognitive function which leads to the forgetting of memories during waking hours, decreased sex drive, weight gain

Cons Of Sleep Divorce

  • It’s difficult to share intimate moments with your partner which is required for strengthening emotional, intellectual, and spiritual bonds. For this, it is important to disclose these intimate details which partners often do not part with easily because of fear that they will be used against them in the future.
  • Frequent arguments over petty things like sleeping patterns divert partners from major issues like parenting styles or dealing with another couple’s kids when hosting dinner parties, etcetera.
  • Partners need rejuvenation time which is very necessary for continuous energy levels during the day, sleep deprivation leads to irritability, forgetfulness, and even depression in some cases.
  • Lack of motivation. Sleep-deprived individuals often feel sleepy and lethargic, making it challenging for them to do much else, including eating healthy food or exercising regularly, which can set them up for overeating (which often leads to weight gain).
  • Increased risk of conditions like heart attack and hypertension after the age of 40 years old. various pillow sizes can also affect sleep divorce.
  • The higher chance that children with sleep problems will have more mental health issues as they get older than those who don’t have sleep problems at a younger age.”
  • Lowered immune system function from insufficient slumber promotes unprecedented numbers of colds and the flu in a person who has a decreased amount of rest during their working.

A Solution To Your Sleeping Arrangement

Sleep is a biological necessity that supports a plethora of functions, including mental well-being and healthy aging. As we age, sleep can become scarce or fragmented. This is because shifts in our circadian rhythm due to natural aging, as well as changes in hormone levels from menopause/adrenal fatigue, injury from accidents or injuries from falls, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or even medications used for hypertension and psychiatric disorders, may disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep habits leave the body exhausted and unable to function properly during daytime hours – this has been found to have an increasing effect on brain aging over time.

If you currently sleep on your stomach with the classic knees-up/feet-down posture, then I’ll recommend that you give Casper a try. The company promotes its product as “a different kind of mattress,” and they do not exaggerate when they say this.

The Casper’s “Posturepedic foam” conforms to the body in all the right places, whether it be the spine in a natural position or in a more relaxed mode in which it is easier for one person to turn around without disturbing another (i.e., spoons).


Sleep Divorce is a real phenomenon. It’s not uncommon for couples to sleep in separate bedrooms or even different homes, and it can have negative effects on their marriage. But there are ways you can help make sure your relationship stays strong! This blog post has given some fantastic tips about how you can improve the quality of your sleep – both alone and with your spouse. Keep these principles in mind when addressing any potential future bedroom issues that may come up during your marriage (or if they already exist!). If we haven’t covered everything, let us know what else we can do to help keep marriages together by sleeping well at night.


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Linda Barbara

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