To Have and Hold, Until Bedtime
March 11, 2007 8:03 PM   Subscribe

To Have, Hold, and Cherish, Until Bedtime [NYT] reports on the "socological phenomenon" of married couples choosing separate sleeping arrangements, a follow-up of sorts to an earlier article on the pyschology of sleeping together. University of Minnesota professor Paul C. Rosenblatt has written an entire book on the subject of co-bedding, a first in the world of sleep studies.
posted by grapefruitmoon (76 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting. Certainly when I worked in residential construction (for the very rich in Manhattan), all our clients wanted separate bedrooms, the first I'd really seen it. Mind you, they all wanted separate closets, separate studies & separate bathrooms too (or at least separate sinks). We joked that the only reason we never built separate kitchens was that these people never cooked at home.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:21 PM on March 11, 2007

I always find these "Across America"-type stories in the NYT weird me out:

An interior designer in Chicago moved into her son’s bedroom when he went off to college.
Fred Tobin, a builder in North Canton, Ohio, is friends of a prominent couple in Columbus whose house was remodeled with two master bedrooms.
Couples today are writing their own script, rewriting how to have a marriage,” said Pamela J. Smock, a University of Michigan sociologist
Dale Mulfinger, an architect in Minneapolis, said, “How about ‘couples’ realms’?

They've got pretty much the whole northern mid-west on lockdown.
posted by phaedon at 8:27 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mrs. FoB and I sleep in separate rooms, and we're far from wealthy. It's just a matter of habit and preference: I snore and thrash. She likes the bedroom warm; I like it chilly. I like having a cat in the bed; she doesn't. In separate rooms, we both get the sleep we need.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:28 PM on March 11, 2007

So the basic story is the husband is gone all the time, comes home late, and wants a separate room so he doesn't wake her up? So when does he see her? Why not just get an apartment right next to the office. He can even get a seperate wife so he doesn't bother his original wife with any demands for sex or companionship.

Our priorities in this country are fucked up.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:31 PM on March 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

Nice article. I know many people who do this (or who at least do the "start the night off together, then if snoring/twitching/thrashing ensues, one or the other goes and sleeps elsewhere *ahem*). Sleeping together is more an indication of how heavy a sleeper you are and/or how non-snory/non-twitchy your partner is than the state of your marriage. A happy marriage is made of happy people who are happy together, and being well-rested is part of being happy in the long term.

I think people over-rate and over-romanticize sleeping together as a long-term arrangement, you should sleep where and how you get the best sleep and not feel like you're a failure or have marriage problems simply because you can't sleep well with someone else in the bed. Cuddling, sex, love and romance have nothing to do with sleeping, and lying there fuming about your partner's snoring, or creeping onto your side of the bed, or stealing the covers, or trying to cuddle you in their sleep when you're hot and uncomfortable and exhausted...those things don't make you feel loving and romantic and happy, they make you feel stressed and frustrated and tired. When it's time to sleep, it's time to sleep, period. Mind you, part of that is that I'm a lifelong insomniac and therefore envious of anyone who can fall asleep easily and sleep well, no matter who they share their bed with.

That said, I don't know that I'd ever want "official" separate bedrooms, although I can certainly see the appeal they might hold.
posted by biscotti at 8:34 PM on March 11, 2007 [5 favorites]

Doesn't seem strange to me. But I dated someone in college who thought the world was coming to an end if I didn't sleep over every single night. Even if one of us had the flu or something easily communicable. I think the "expectation" of co-bedding is much more nurture than nature. All those TV shows and such.
posted by bardic at 8:34 PM on March 11, 2007

Pastabagel, I think quite a few have already gone this route.
posted by IronLizard at 8:34 PM on March 11, 2007

My SO and I have separate bedrooms, and have had for 7 years. He snores. And my work schedule meant that we had drastically different sleep schedules. We'd have split up long ago if we actually had to share a bed - that, or I'd have lost my mind from sleep deprivation.
posted by dilettante at 8:41 PM on March 11, 2007

Despite the majority of couples in my extended family sleeping in seperate beds, I've always seen the practice as strange. I think that if a prospective relationship partner insisted on such a situation then it would mean the end of us. Feeling another body warmly spooned with mine in a half-slumber is what I miss most when I'm single. Take that away and I might as well be.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:43 PM on March 11, 2007

Oh yeah. Separate beds. I'm so there. I have two little girls who have taken my place in my bed (two and a half and a nursing 7 month old) and I couldn't be happier about it. I sleep either on the sofa or on the bed in my office. I'm getting the best sleep of my life!

In my perfect world, the wife and I would have separate twin beds; I'm talking Ward and June Cleaver here. Booty is nice and all, but when I want to sleep, I want to sleep.
posted by ColdChef at 8:44 PM on March 11, 2007

I can understand the seperate areas if there is a sleeping problem, but the article quickly dispenses with that reasoning. There is this little gem:

Occasionally, the need to separate does have to do with sex. Professor Rosenblatt said one older woman he interviewed said she had her own bedroom because, “I’ve paid my dues. I’m old enough that I don’t want to have sex at 1 a.m.”

"Paid my dues?" What the hell is wrong with people? Sex with your spouse is your dues? In exchange for what? Why did she marry him in the first place? But I'm sure her husband is happy to hear that his account with her is settled. Now he can openly screw his secretary with impunity and a clear conscience.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:45 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Or, as I heard a comedian say today (about high thread count bedsheets): "It's a fucking third of your life. Splurge!"
posted by ColdChef at 8:47 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Why does this bother you so much Pasta? People should be allowed to live their private lives they way they want to.
posted by octothorpe at 8:49 PM on March 11, 2007

I'm a card-carrying insomniac and my husband sleeps like dead rocks rolling off of logs, but we get along fine, thanks to the wonders of prescription medication! Once I can *get* to sleep, everything is peachy. (And my problems falling asleep have nothing whatsoever to do with him, and everything to do with thinking too much.)

I'm surprised the prescription drug industry hasn't worked this angle more: "Tired of your husband's elbow in your face? Drug yourself into oblivion, so you don't notice! Try new extra strength SOMNOLEX!"

I'm also nocturnal and work the evening shift at my job, so my sleep schedule and my husband's don't directly overlap. He goes to bed not too long after I get out of work and we snuggle and talk for a while, then I'll get up for a few hours and return to bed. Then in the morning, he gets up and I stay asleep for a few hours. We each have a few hours of sleeping separately, but I can't imagine us ever going so far as to have separate bedrooms. The idea just seems very lonely to me, perhaps because I enjoy talking to someone as I fall asleep.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:49 PM on March 11, 2007

I'm about to get married, and see in my wife-to-be all the sleep differences/qualities that these articles and posts discuss. Biscotti is right, sleep is over-romanticized....loving someone means being able to let them sleep without being smothered by cats or interrupted by irritating nocturnal speech every night. If these separate beds/rooms work for these people, then, God bless'em.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:49 PM on March 11, 2007

My parents do this, and have for as long as I've known them. Not really certain how I was conceived in fact. At first it was separate single beds in the same room, then as the house emptied Mum took one of the vacated bedrooms.

Mum worked nightshift as a midwife while I was growing up so I assume it was that as much as Dad's snoring or their irreconcilable differences over mattress softness (Mum: quite firm, even hard. Dad: very soft, spongy and cushiony) that sent them down this route.

Dad's snoring is really, really bad. I once shared a room with him at a hotel. After an hour lying awake listening to the awesome and earth-shattering symphony being played out in the next bed, I rose, packed up my gear and went down to the front desk to get another room and hang the expense. Fortunately, they had one, even though it was 3am.
posted by Ritchie at 8:52 PM on March 11, 2007

What the hell is wrong with people?

Come on, surely you can imagine how, say, a woman who married in the 1940s might have the attitude that sex is a kind of obligation to a spouse she may or may not have been in love with at the time of marriage. I understand what you're saying, but that kind of attitude is probably not the best sign that something is Wrong With People In America Today. Really, I think biscotti is much closer to the truth: it's a more enlightened world when standard cultural myths (Must Sleep In Same Bed Or Marriage Is A Failure, e.g.) are loosened to allow for more flexible arrangements.
posted by mediareport at 8:52 PM on March 11, 2007

When my husband has to go away on trips every now and then I can hardly fall asleep WITHOUT him. I can't imagine having seperate bedrooms. Sleeping with someone is something I got used to and enjoy, not something I put up with.

If someone snores so badly that you can't sleep, they need to see a doctor, because there is a medical problem.
posted by jesirose at 9:02 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Interesting that the articles only address sharing beds in the context of couples. Many people in their 50's and older shared beds with siblings growing up. A few generations before that, hotels and rooming houses still rented out bed space. My father (now 60) has told me of a time when he was in his late teens, and his church would have an annual convention/camp for which the single men would all be housed in a dormitory that, for space reasons, had all of the beds pushed together in one extremely long room, so that three people could be accommodated per two single mattresses. Normally this wasn't an issue, but one night he had the misfortune of being near a WW2 veteran who woke up screaming in the night about invading Japanese and tried to strangle the man next to him. The veteran was given a tent on his own, as I recall.

In some two hundred years, along with a massive increase in people per square mile, we've gone from a general social expectation that, unless you're wealthy, you can expect to share a bed with family members at home, and on occasion with a stranger, to a social expectation that you only share a bed with a person you're "sleeping with" in the euphemistic sense, to an even higher expectation of privacy. I think it's not having to share beds with siblings that does it; someone who's always slept alone finds it hard to adapt to sharing somewhere as small, and easily disrupted, as a bed.

Personally, it takes me a long time to get used to sleeping with someone. I sleep badly for at least a week, until sheer exhaustion gives me at least one uninterrupted night, and over time, the uninterrupted nights become more frequent. I still find the intimacy worth the sleep deprivation, though.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:07 PM on March 11, 2007

I'm prone to insomnia. Usually worry makes it worse, and when I'm tucked up next to him writhing about, I worry a lot about waking him up. Then I writhe more. Then I worry more. The easiest thing to do is go and sleep in the spare room.

He snores when he's sick or stressed. Everything above is the same, with the difference that he then wakes me up, I start to worry, and then I keep him up, too.

People freaking about how horrible it is to not sleep with your SO clearly have never needed to deal with someone hard to sleep with.
posted by Jilder at 9:09 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

All this talk about snoring. What's the big deal about it? Don't they make some kind of throat spray or something that's supposed to stop that?

Also, I think it's amusing how many times people in the article and in the thread have assured us that "it's not about sex." Why so defensive?

Personally, if I were married, I'd want to sleep in the same bed as my wife. However, I simply cannot understand people who want their pets to sleep in bed with them. I think that would be a dealbreaker for me. I'm not talking seperate rooms, I'm talking seperate lives.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:18 PM on March 11, 2007

People freaking about how horrible it is to not sleep with your SO clearly have never needed to deal with someone hard to sleep with.

Or perhaps there are people who prioritize intimacy over getting a good night's sleep every single night.

My husband and I are both difficult to sleep with, we've both been told so many times by other bed-partners, but we manage alright. Sure, there are the occasional nights where someone sleeps on the couch because the other person has the flu or is thrashing too much or whatever. (I once slept on the futon in our living room because when I came to bed and asked my husband to move so I could climb in, he said "No." Clearly, he was asleep, but I could neither reason with nor move him.) It just seems to me in the context of a marriage, taking it to the level of separate bedrooms all the time seems weird and extreme.

I wouldn't classify myself as "freaking out" but I do think that the trade off of greater intimacy is worth a few hours of sleep that I've missed.

(But y'know, that's just me. And I don't have kids yet. When I'm up all night feeding a crying infant, I will probably eat these words.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:19 PM on March 11, 2007

To each his and her own of course.

Meanwhile speaking from personal experience, Mrs Scheptech have already experienced this "sociological phenomenon" and opted back out.

We first spent several years sleeping in the same bed, then a few years in separate beds for many of the reasons described, and now we're back in the same bed. Sometimes one or the other of us will spend part of the night on the couch if restless and not wanting to disturb the other but the plan is always to spend the night together and only opt for apart if something's wrong like one of us is not feeling well.

The reason we purposely got it back together was simple: we noticed ourselves growing apart, becoming less emotionally connected, when taking the "apart unless there's a reason to be together" route instead of the "together unless there's a reason to be apart" route. It was getting a little sad actually and we're happier having returned to the same bed although it was not easy. Once used to sleeping alone, it can be difficult to put up with sleeping with someone else but to us at least, it's been worth it.
posted by scheptech at 9:20 PM on March 11, 2007

My wife and I have started to do this recently, after 8 years of sharing a bed, thanks to my increasingly deafening snore, our radically differing preferences for temperature, different sleep and work schedules, demonic flatulence, all kinds of stuff. I'd rather have her in the bed with me, but I'm more than happy to let her decide if she just can't hack it. We're both inordinately fond of sleep. Our apartment is tiny by western standards, but we do have two bedrooms (well, one was the 'office', but we've converted them into twin work/sleep spaces now).

She's been quite blithe about the whole thing; sentimental traditionalist that I am, I was kind of worried, for the kind of reasons that scheptech talks about. We're pretty incessantly affectionate all the rest of the time, though, so I'm reasonably confident that all will be well, and we're planning to stay vigilant about drifting apart. We shall see how it goes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on March 11, 2007

There's something very nice about waking up next to your lover, wife, or husband. There's also something very nice about being able to sleep well. I usually have trouble falling asleep in bed with someone, even if I've been with that person for a long time. Once I'm out though, I'm out. So, I'd like a situation where I can fall asleep in a different place and then have someone move me into my partner's bed while I'm sleeping. That would be ideal.
posted by inconsequentialist at 9:57 PM on March 11, 2007

Yeah. I know the snoring can be fought with surgery to some extent, but what about the flatulence?
posted by adipocere at 10:06 PM on March 11, 2007

Sounds like CPAP territory here. Much too much snoring.

I sleep like a log when the bed is my own, but I have a helluva time falling asleep alone and hate waking up alone.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:09 PM on March 11, 2007

My mom and pops do this (and have done so since I can recall.) My mom goes to bed at around 8pm. My dad sits in the living room reading/making phone calls/watching the news. When my dad goes to bed at around 1230 (shortly after Nightline), my mom moves into the living room to alternate between the two chairs and the couch until 3am when she gets ready to go to work. (She also snores like a lawnmower but my dad sleeps like a rock.)
(Of course, their marriage isn't exactly the most lovey-dovey of situations. It's more of a buisness arrangement.)

Me? I HATE sleeping in a bed with someone else. HATE. I like to have room because I move a lot in my sleep and I tend to kick other people/blankets/stuffed animals out of bed. My ex bf was very unhappy with this and constantly tried to keep a death grip on me while I slept. (Oddly enough, this could be a metaphor for our entire fucked up relationship.)

I see nothing wrong with not sleeping in the same bed. If it goes to the point where massive avoidance is involved--then there's a bit of a problem.
posted by sperose at 10:09 PM on March 11, 2007

I'll be you all like to cuddle after you fuck. Wimps.
posted by bardic at 10:17 PM on March 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

err, bet

I fail at humor.
posted by bardic at 10:18 PM on March 11, 2007

what about the flatulence?

Don't ask.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:19 PM on March 11, 2007

I expect a lot of people desire the intimacy of sleeping with another living thing, and cats and dogs certainly desire that themselves. It's a mammalian instinct, apparently, although the instinct to have one's own territory and private space competes with it.

I'm a little bit allergic to fur, too much so to let an animal sleep with me on any regular basis, it makes me sneeze and my eyes itch. But the few times I've shared a bed with a cat or dog--or two dogs, when I was dogsitting for friends--I found them to be restless bedmates. It's surprising how much space a fifteen kilogram staffy terrier will take up. I'm amazed how anyone manages to sleep with a labrador or german shepherd and get any sleep at all. I suppose it's a matter of getting used to it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:23 PM on March 11, 2007

Sleeping with an animal is frickin' gross, but then again, people are weird about their animals.

People who let their dogs lick their faces? Ew. People who kiss their dogs while their dogs are licking them - ew ew ew ew ew!

They're animals. If they're dogs, they eat their shit. If they're cats, they walk around in their shit, and as an added bonus, their shit has parasites that will make you sad and crazy. Either way, you're inviting shit into your bed with you. Yuck!
posted by Afroblanco at 10:32 PM on March 11, 2007

So is sibling incest better with a sibling of the same sex?
posted by davy at 10:48 PM on March 11, 2007

> Yeah. I know the snoring can be fought with surgery to some extent, but what about the flatulence?

Surgery too -- I hear it's painfull but comes with a purge valve.
posted by NewBornHippy at 10:52 PM on March 11, 2007

> Yeah. I know the snoring can be fought with surgery to some extent, but what about the flatulence?

Surgery too -- I hear it's painful but comes with a purge valve.
posted by NewBornHippy at 10:52 PM on March 11, 2007

(I was responding to aeschenkarnos , sort of.)
posted by davy at 10:52 PM on March 11, 2007

what about the flatulence?

Put a cork in it, whiners.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 PM on March 11, 2007

From this site:

Here are situations that can create sleep problems for couples.
Disagreement about who gets which side of the bed
Differing sleep positions
Temperature of the room
To cuddle or not to cuddle
Sheet textures
Tossing and turning
Teeth grinding
Degree of quietness
Getting up in the middle of the night
The size of the bed
The firmness of the bed
Having a window open
Sleeping with children or pets
Going to bed angry
Sleep walking
Amount of pillows
Number of blankets
Spousal arousal syndrome
Time to go to bed
When to get up in the morning
posted by Xurando at 10:57 PM on March 11, 2007

That list totally ignores 'demonic flatulence'.

Put a cork in it, whiner.

If I had said that to my wife, she might have taken my advice some night while I was asleep. I am no prude, but I do have to draw the line at a cork up my butt, even in the service of matrimonial harmony.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:07 PM on March 11, 2007

grapefruitmoon - Or perhaps there are people who prioritize intimacy over getting a good night's sleep every single night.

Or perhaps there are people who don't define "intimacy" as "sleeping in the same bed with the person you love".

Why are some of the posters here so black/white over this topic? Why do some of you immediately think that people who live different lives than you do are somehow inferior, broken, or shallow?

I love sex. I love cuddling. I don't like never being able to get comfortable with another person in bed with me, and I don't like someone breathing on me when I'm trying to sleep. How come that means I "don't prioritize intimacy"? These negative comments are so judgmental.
posted by tzikeh at 11:09 PM on March 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

tzikeh: I was merely trying to provide some insight into the fact that for some couples, they prefer to sleep in the same bed even if it's not an ideal sleeping situation. No one's trying to judge you or harsh your mellow, man.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:23 AM on March 12, 2007

I sleep in the same bed as my bride, but I'm a terrible bedmate. I snore like it's going out of style, come to bed way late, etc. We may eventually have separate beds, but I don't think she's all that open to it right now, though the snoring is certainly wearing her down, I think.

There seems to be the same virulent reaction to this as there is when a thread is heavy on the marriage sex jokes. Seems to be one of those nerves.
posted by maxwelton at 12:23 AM on March 12, 2007

Why are some of the posters here so black/white over this topic? Why do some of you immediately think that people who live different lives than you do are somehow inferior, broken, or shallow?

Some couples don't have sex. Hell, some couples never kiss. It's at the very least interesting to those of us who do and consider those behaviours part and parcel of being intimate with someone.

Presumably there are couples who can barely stand to touch each other. Why do you presume that it is not a valid point of interest?
posted by dreamsign at 1:25 AM on March 12, 2007

What the hell are you talking about?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:35 AM on March 12, 2007

"Spousal arousal syndrome"


That is all.
posted by liquorice at 2:14 AM on March 12, 2007

Some developers say it is a delicate issue and call the other bedroom a “flex suite” for when the in-laws visit or the children come home from college.

"No matter what the reasons, architects and builders say they know enough not to call them "master" bedrooms anymore.

"Women are buying more homes, and women are sensitive to that terminology of the ‘master suite,’ and they’re opting for the term ‘owners’ suite,’ ” said Barbara Slavkin, an interior designer in St. Louis.

A lot of the "black/white" issues and curious questioning just stems from cultural expectations--ones that are, if the study, NYT article, and even this thread are any indication, changing slowly but steadily. Clearly there is still social stigma attached to notions of sleeping separately, and it's tied to convention and the unspoken suggestion that "something must be wrong if they're not sleeping in the same bed!"

This reclassifying or renaming of the living spaces is a way to avoid that stigma while still being unorthodox, and being able to live in a manner of ones choosing, while still being able to "keep up appearances"--at least until this becomes more acceptable. (or, failing that, still being able to maintain to outsiders that that second bedroom is "just for guests")
posted by exlotuseater at 2:19 AM on March 12, 2007

davy (I was responding to aeschenkarnos , sort of.)

Oh? Well, I'm not sure why you're asking that question at all, and even less sure why you're asking me. I'd assumed it to be obvious from context, but my point about sibling bed-sharing is for sleep, rather than sex. Same goes for sharing with pets.

Why would you immediately assume a sexual context to sibling bed-sharing?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:27 AM on March 12, 2007

Strange. I expected at least a couple people to share my situation but I guess not. My wife becomes a furnace at night. She throws off serious heat for the first two or three hours every night and I feel like I am in a pizza oven under the sheets. I fear for my life when menopause comes.
posted by srboisvert at 2:27 AM on March 12, 2007

> My wife becomes a furnace at night.

Yeah, I've seen this too. Is it common? It's very confortable though -- I love it.
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:35 AM on March 12, 2007

I believe I read that men sleep less well on average when sharing a bed. Oh yes, here it is:
When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day.
posted by asok at 2:46 AM on March 12, 2007

If someone snores so badly that you can't sleep, they need to see a doctor, because there is a medical problem.

Clearly you are not a light sleeper. For those who have trouble getting to/staying asleep without medication, someone doesn't have to be snoring like a bandsaw in an oildrum going over Niagara Falls, light snoring or even loud breathing is plenty disturbing enough (I am hypervigilant when I try to go to sleep, which means any sound at all wakes me up or keeps me up, even with white noise).
posted by biscotti at 5:14 AM on March 12, 2007

Dead on, biscotti. I'm a "sleep of the dead" sleeper who can fall asleep anytime, anywhere, under any conditions. When I was little, my dad used to take me to band practice, where I'd fall asleep with my head against the speakers. We're talking serious sleep.

The mister? Not so much. Separate beds saved our respective sanity -- his because now he can sleep, and mine because I don't have to listen to him complaining about his lack of sleep. The animals love it because hey! bonus! two big warm beds to completely overrun. (You want to see a small dog take up serious bedspace? Try sleeping with a dachshund).

As much as I like sleeping in the same bed with him (we still do occasionally), I like having him happy much more.
posted by at 5:45 AM on March 12, 2007

Gah, some of you have never had to share a bed with a spouse with undiagnosed sleep apnea. I spent many a night on the couch just so I could get some sleep. (CPAP machine to the rescue!)

As an old married lady of 23 years, sometimes you want to sleep in the same bed, sometimes you don't. Cuddling is important, but NOT at the expense of decent sleep.
posted by konolia at 5:57 AM on March 12, 2007

When my husband has to go away on trips every now and then I can hardly fall asleep WITHOUT him. I can't imagine having seperate bedrooms.

And other people are not just like you. This is a surprise?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:09 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

My first partner had apnea. My sleep cycles into barely-asleep/mostly-awake stage several times a night. I used to listen to his breathing, not knowing about this apnea thing. (Learned about it after his very premature death by heart attack). But it wasn't disturbing my sleep . I thrash about, and that didn't disturb him.

I don't thrash about as much as previously. I still cycle into very light sleep, and get up at least once nearly every night. Doesn't bother the hottness on the other side of the bed. But then, our bed is a 2m x 2m Euro-king with individual latoflex and matresses. The covers are indivudual duvets (which, contrary to my expectation, proved no hinderence to cuddles at all).

In hotels we often get separate beds, since we don't do well in smaller beds together. He climbs in my bed until I fall asleep, then moves. When its time to get him up, I crawl into his bed. It works.

But separate rooms? I wouldn't want that. Your spouse is the one you can call out to in the middle of the night, and have them already there.

Separate bathrooms? Now there you have something worth having.

Separate studies? I wouldn't have it any other way.

As for pets: Pets are dependant. Therefore, they have a right to access. They may feel the need to warn me of something wrong, or have some sudden need in the night. They learn that my sleep movements are not to be trifled with.
posted by Goofyy at 6:15 AM on March 12, 2007

what about the flatulence?

This is, in fact, the ONLY reason I will spend the night in the same bed as my wife. So that I can trap her in "Turtle Land", a place where my younger brother spent most of his young years. Here's what you do: 1. release the Krakon, then 2. shake your wife and say, "Is the house on fire? I smell smoke." Falls for it every time.
posted by ColdChef at 7:12 AM on March 12, 2007 [10 favorites]

This is just another symptom of North Americans / Westerners becoming more selfish, self-centered, spoiled and pampered individuals. Whether or not this is a good thing is debatable.

For most of human history, and for most people alive right now, bedrooms are filled with wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters... even in-laws, cousins, etc. Many if not most people living right now don't sleep in beds - just blankets on thin mattresses on the floor. Sleeping with cats and dogs is gross? People in many parts of the world sleep with their cows, pigs and chickens.

You can get used to anything. Being alone during sleep, having your own room, and having everything just so is a sign of the coming apocalypse. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:26 AM on March 12, 2007

Pfft. I'm sure some of my ancestors, sleeping 12 to a lice-ridden bed, would be happy to know that their descendant was happily possessed of a clean, warm, place to herself.

I can't easily get to sleep in the same place as my husband. He snores, and he cuddles and he steals covers, and I often have insomnia. I can usually sleep if I go to the couch and then wake up later and go back to the bed.

If I had the space/money, I would love a separate bed, and sleep like an angel in it. And love him all the more for not being sleep deprived.
posted by emjaybee at 7:44 AM on March 12, 2007

I wish my parents would sleep in separate rooms - my mother has made no secret of her suffering for the past fifty years with my father's snoring. Instead of being a martyr, it would be great if she'd just relocate. Or he would. Either!

I joke that I got married specifically so I would never have to sleep alone again.

I'm not really joking, though.
posted by pinky at 7:54 AM on March 12, 2007

If 'seperate sleeping' has nothing to do with sex, then how come it seems that women are far more in favor of it then men are?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:25 AM on March 12, 2007

ColdChef, you are a funny, evil dude.
posted by everichon at 8:36 AM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is just another symptom of North Americans / Westerners becoming more selfish, self-centered, spoiled and pampered individuals. Whether or not this is a good thing is debatable. (Meatbomb)

You obviously have Internet access, yet you could survive without it - therefore you're selfish, spoiled, etc? There's no reason for me to make that leap, and your logic as applied to bedrooms is equally ridiculous.
posted by desjardins at 8:50 AM on March 12, 2007

I throw the heat in my bed, my wife loves that aspect. I'll give you a run-down of the pros and cons, you decide which are which?
snoring, both of us. MF
tossing around, M
Insomnia, F
throwin a leg on her (i'm 180lb, she says my leg weighs a ton.) M
bad morning breath, F
body is a virtual orchestra, M
Farting, M
Temp at 69 deg F., M
Temps at 79 deg F. F
going down early 12:00ish and getting up at 6:00am, M
Going down at 1:00am and getting up at 8:00am, F

We do what it takes to sleep together, occasionally she will go down and put her pillow at the foot of the bed in the middle of the night. There is something to be said for waking up cuddling a nice warm pair of pretty little feet.

The farting, oh the farting. I don't know how she can sleep, it's not the noise, it's not really the smell, the loud ones are really just for show, It's peeling the sheets off of the ceiling that will be the downfall of the bed sharing. She says my constant tug-boat style of farting is not natural and thinks I should take something. I do take something....A NAP!
posted by winks007 at 9:07 AM on March 12, 2007

Afroblanco -- men are more afflicted with snoring, and women (especially women who've had kids) are more afflicted with light slighting. Toxic combination.

But I do agree with Meatbomb -- separate bedrooms as a trend are consumption of a fairly conspicuous sort, even if there's a good reason for it. (Conspicous consumption doesn't have to be irrational.)
posted by MattD at 9:23 AM on March 12, 2007

Light sleeping.
posted by MattD at 9:24 AM on March 12, 2007

Between this article and an earlier Times article about older children sleeping in their parents' bed, I just want to see my parents, hug them, and tell them, "Thank you for being normal." (something I never thought I'd believe about them)
posted by deanc at 9:38 AM on March 12, 2007

Afroblanco, i believe it has to do with the reality that more women suffer from insomnia and more men suffer from snoring issues.

honestly, i have my own studio in what was once the "carriage house"--really more of a two-story garage--and i have never been happier, and have never slept better in my life--and i am a (lightly) medicated insomniac.

in the past, *any* activity of *anyone* in the house would wake me, especially since we live in an old house with extraordinarily creaky floors. my partner sleeps well, he says, but he's a chronic rocker and twitcher--and i could never sleep at all when we shared a bed. it made me crazy with sleep-deprivation.

sex? we've always been day-time fuckers. morning sex gets indulged in when one or the other of us crawls into bed with the other, but it's the one thing i miss most--waking him up that way is one of my favorite things to do. the thing was--it was often at first light, after a night of No Sleep. i don't miss that last one bit.

the defensiveness is exactly about what the first article pointed to--people assume there's something wrong with your relationship if you don't sleep together. they never *say anything*, but they give you a falsely knowing, superior look which makes me wanna pop 'em. we both agree that our relationship has improved, and we're actually *more* cuddly than before. and now i have about ten fewer excuses to complain about him. which is what i *constantly* hear from co-sleeping couples. (he does *this or he does *that. blah blah blah. quit bitching and do something about it.)

i'm sure there are women out there who have the old-fashioned notion about not wanting sex after a certain age. i'm not one of them, and i'm pretty sure i'm not the only one.

all that said, it is true that we are vastly different from our predecessors. but you know what? those people also worked like beasts of burden all day, and falling into bed together was likely some of the only physical intimacy they could get. never mind sex. i may be a wimp comparatively, and my sleep issues might be an indicator of a fucked-up world, and there are loads of folks who are more alienated from each other than ever before. it's a mess, really. but i don't think that wanting to have our own beds is a prime indicator as much as our messed up priorities about work and entertainment--our intimacy suffers accordingly.

if the only intimacy you get is when you're in bed, you've got a problem, IMO.
posted by RedEmma at 9:40 AM on March 12, 2007

Mrs Ev and I have our own rooms, due to me being a snoring sleepthrash zombie, in our tiny-ass, non-custom-built house. I don't understand the "conspicuous consumption" angle. How are separate bedrooms conspicuous? Conspicuous to...other family members? Conspicuous when your house has its centerfold in Architectural Digest?
posted by everichon at 9:45 AM on March 12, 2007

if the only intimacy you get is when you're in bed, you've got a problem, IMO.

That's exactly it. I found it really disturbing / hilarious that when my friends figured out we were doing the separate bed thing, the first question asked was "Are you two having problems?"

Problems? no, we solved ours. And if one of us wants to crawl in with the other occasionally, cool. (I know I did right after surgery when I was feeling really crappy and depressed and couldn't sleep without a painkiller or two).

Building yourself a separate wing so you don't have to be anywhere near your SO in the night -- yeah, that's a little creepy. Being one room away? Not so much. We're lucky to have the space, and all it took was moving my office to the basement. I don't think it's particularly conspicuous consumption when you're using a spare bedroom for its stated purpose.
posted by at 9:52 AM on March 12, 2007

Having a separate bedroom/bathroom/closet at the SO's place doesn't mean we can't have sleepover parties in each other's rooms.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:33 AM on March 12, 2007

eh, my boyfriend and i were going to do this, much to my dismay. unfortunately, he is a super light sleeper, and i breathe loudly. we put a fan in the room and it works out for us now. of course, now we have different schedules (day/night) so we may want to revisit the topic.
posted by kerning at 12:10 PM on March 12, 2007

Heh. We have a double bed and My husband rebels at the thought of getting a queen-size. We once had a hotel room with a king-size bed and he complained that I was too far away. His favorite time of day is getting home at 6:30am and sliding into the bed and spooning me. I rarely notice. Does he snore? Sometimes. Do I snore? Sometimes. Does our bulldog (sleeping under the bed) snore? Usually. Apparently we are People Who Don't Mind Snoring.

What could be better than drifting off to sleep while my husband strokes my back?

If given the option of separate rooms, I would probably go for separate offices so we could both spread all our shit around without bothering to tidy up.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:33 PM on March 12, 2007

there's so much black and white totalitarianism on this issue earlier upthread. i'm here to say that it doesn't just depend on the person, it depends on the COUPLE.

i cohabited, and attempted to co-sleep for ten years with my x, who snored, thrashed, ground his teeth, hogged the blankets and pinned me onto what felt like a 6"x6" space on the bed. for the record my x is also a large guy and i'm pretty small, so i'd always come out on the losing end of any nocturnal power struggles. we spent the last 2 years of our relationship (mostly) in separate beds. i just could not handle sleeping with him. all my life i thought i was a light sleeper. turns out i just wasn't a compatible sleeper with that particular person. our relationship troubles went way, way deeper than the sleep issues, but in hindsight, it didn't help that we both used the sleeping-in-separate-rooms thing as an avatar for miscommunication on so much else in our relationship.

my current SO and i sleep like logs together. now, we're extremely fortunate in that we're compatible sleepers, meaning we're both quiet, don't thrash about much, we fall asleep equally quickly and prefer similar sleeping environments in re: room temps and all. oh, and he just happens to be roughly the same size and weight as me - which, since neither of us has a fortune to blow on space-age bedding, makes it so very much easier on my back, neck and shoulders.

i was initially quite leery of ever co-sleeping again after having dealt with my x and a couple restless, aggressive and/or loud interim partners. oh, and a minor bonus issue: i thought i was an insomniac on top of it all - it turns out that was all related to stress and depression, and i've since figured out how to deal with both on my own terms without medical / chemical intervention.

the thing is, we're fortunate and i know this. i recognise that my present situation has no bearing on what other committed partners may have to deal with. what works, works, and some of the responses in this thread sound to me like people projecting insecurities, et cetera.

bottom line: a decent night's sleep absolutely trumps sharing a bed at the expense of one's sanity and functionality. i know this now because i've seen both sides of the story.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:06 PM on March 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

"And other people are not just like you. This is a surprise?"

No, but 80 other people shared their personal views on the subject, so I did too. That's a surprise? Geez.
posted by jesirose at 10:52 PM on March 12, 2007

Honestly, whatever floats your boat. What do I care about your sleeping habits?
posted by liquorice at 12:23 AM on March 13, 2007

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