Divorce doesn’t have to mean arguing over custody of your kids and splitting your assets––or even splitting up. In fact, a “sleep divorce” could be the best thing you ever do for your relationship. Just ask Carson Daly. The TODAY host said in September that he and his wife got a sleep divorce when they were renovating their house, and they’ve both benefited from it. And they’re far from the only ones. In fact, a recent Mattress Clarity survey of 3,000 Americans found that 31% of them were up for a sleep divorce.
A previous survey by the same company found that 19% of Americans blame their partner for their poor sleep, suggesting that filing for a sleep divorce might help reduce the likelihood of the other kind of divorce—which is, let’s face it, altogether more stressful and expensive.
In Daly’s case, his wife is pregnant and he has sleep apnea (a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, which often results in loud snoring)––both solid reasons for going your separate ways for some precious shuteye. Other reasons for choosing to sleep apart from your significant other include room and/or bedding temperature preferences––you might like to keep cozy under a pile of blankets while they find anything more than a single sheet too warm—and disparate work schedules, Carolyn Dean, MD, author and founder of RnA ReSet, tells Health.
“A sleep divorce is simple: a couple chooses to sleep apart in order to get a good night’s sleep,” she explains. “This might mean sleeping in separate beds in the same room or in separate rooms altogether.”
According to Dr. Dean, a sleep divorce comes with some major potential benefits: sleeping more soundly and experiencing fewer disruptions to your sleep cycle, such as less waking in the middle of the night and less trouble falling back to sleep. And the bigger picture is better health overall. “Improved sleep quality allows the brain to repair and recharge, and lowers stress levels,” she reveals. “It also decreases daytime tiredness; improves mood, endurance, and focus; and improves brain functionality as a whole. This is likely to improve relationships––not just with your significant other but with friends, co-workers, etc.”
If you go for the plunge and get a sleep divorce from your bed buddy, make it part of a general overhaul of your sleep hygiene. “Make sure your bedroom is set up for quality sleep,” Dr. Dean advises. This means getting rid of electronic devices like computers and cell phones, ensuring your mattress is comfortable and supportive, keeping your bedroom dark and quiet, maintaining a room temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and trying to follow the same bedtime routine every night.
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