It’s Time to Embrace the Sleep Divorce

More and more couples are sleeping apart. Here’s why you may want to consider it.

Angela Lashbrook
Elemental
Published in
5 min readJul 29, 2019

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Illustration: Felicity Marshall

IIt’s a widely accepted social norm that couples sleep cozily together every night in one bed. If they aren’t, well, you might assume the relationship is on shaky ground. But this togetherness isn’t some hallowed ancient tradition, and many couples are ignoring it for the sake of better sleep.

Data suggest there’s a slow shift toward a more relaxed view of co-sleeping. According to the British Sleep Council, more people — or at least Brits — are reporting that they sleep separately. The percentage of people who said they sleep apart every night increased from 8% in 2013 to 12% in 2017, and the percentage who said they sleep away from their partner at least part of the time rose from 22% to 24% during the same period. Another study from Ryerson University in Toronto in 2013, found that up to 40% of couples sleep separately.

It’s unclear whether people are sleeping apart more often, or if they’re becoming more comfortable revealing their sleep habits. Either way, the trend torpedoes the assumption that partners always sleep side by side.

Neil Stanley, a sleep researcher and author of the book How To Sleep Well conducted a study at the University of Surrey in 2005 that…

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Angela Lashbrook
Elemental

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.