My Husband And I Sleep In Separate Beds

Is sharing a bed more important than having a good night's sleep?

Sleeping alone

by Annie Ridout |
Updated on

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Some years ago, I was listening to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and (former presenter) Jenni Murray was talking about sleeping in a separate room to her husband. She spoke confidently about how beneficial is was to her long-term relationship.

'Yeah right,' I thought. 'Separate beds clearly signal the demise of a relationship. And it definitely means they aren’t having sex.'

But then I had my first baby. And I saw what sleep deprivation can do to a relationship.

In the first months with our newborn daughter, she’d wake every few hours for a feed. I’d sit up, breastfeed, and then my husband and I would take it in turns to burp and rock her back to sleep. Often, she’d hit the Moses basket and wake immediately for another feed.

We were so, so tired. And it led to arguments and resentment. I resented that he ‘got’ to go to work every day, while I was left to care for our new baby alone. He felt resentful that he was grafting all day then returning to help bathe a colicky baby before another broken night’s sleep.

About six months in, she started sleeping through and we started liking each other again. Another six months later, we were talking about a second baby. Oh how quickly the human brain deletes the difficult parts of parenthood to encourage more procreation.

When our daughter was two and a half, I gave birth to our son. This time, we each had a role: I would breastfeed and care for the newborn, while Rich took our daughter out during the day and went to her in the night, if she called out.

But we also decided to sleep separately. We’re in the very fortunate position of having a spare bedroom, so he slept there. This meant that, when I’d not had enough sleep (most nights) and felt grumpy (most days), Rich was more patient with me, as he’d usually had a good sleep himself.

We argued a lot less, second-time around.

So when that baby turned two and a half, and I gave birth to our third (and final) baby - again, we parted ways each evening. We decided to prioritise sleep over sharing a bed. Rich took himself off to the spare room, and I co-slept with the baby until he was eight months old.

Now, that ‘baby’ is two and sleeps in his own room. But Rich hasn’t returned to the marital bed. Every time he’s tried to, one of the kids will wake in the night, get in with us and we all have a bad night’s sleep. Whereas when we sleep in separate beds, only one of us has disturbed sleep.

But also, Rich snores after he’s had a beer and so, even if the kids all sleep through in their own beds, I’ll be woken by him snoring. Then going for a wee. And seven years into motherhood, I’m simply not prepared to be woken by anyone or anything that isn’t a child-in-need.

A friend told me about her parents who are in their 70s and stubbornly bed-share despite one of them snoring, which means the other rarely has a good night’s sleep. Perhaps some people worry that sleeping separately may cause a chasm in their relationship, but I think it does the opposite.

Rich is keen to return to our bed, though I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Most mornings, I feel like I did pre-marriage, pre-kids: well-rested. And I don’t feel ready to sacrifice my sleep just for the sake of not being parted from my beloved through the night.

Also, in case you’re wondering, it’s entirely possible to have a healthy sex life when you sleep in separate beds. You just have to be creative, which makes it a lot more fun anyway. (Sorry for the judgement, Jenni.)

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