If you’ve watched The Crown, you’ll notice that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip sleep on different beds—something that most ordinary couples don’t even consider. Why sleep apart when you can save on costs and share a mattress? The queen is a queen, and she has a personal fortune that can shoulder two beds from any luxury bed shop in England.
However, there might be more to sleeping on separate beds than a whim of luxury. Some sleep scientists claim that a couple that sleeps on their own mattresses experience better quality of sleep than couples who sleep side by side. It seems that you trade the cuddles for a good night’s rest. Plus, you always wake up on the right side of the bed.
Sleeping Beside Your Partner Can Be Stressful
Most couples would say that they prefer sleeping beside their partners. It is, according to them, a way to reinforce intimacy. Who better to be with during your most vulnerable moments?
Objectively speaking, however, sleeping beside your partner—or anybody at all—is worse than sleeping alone. Intimacy and affection aside, you experience more disruptions when the person beside you tosses and turns. The movements can impact the quality of your sleep. Hot sleepers could also disturb their partners. The optimal temperature for sleeping is around 60 to 67°F. If the person beside you gives off more body heat than the average person, you might not sleep as soundly. The opposite happens to some people—their blanket bandits of a partner leave them shivering in the middle of their sleep. Snoring makes it even worse.
Some experts estimate that sleeping beside another person wakes you up six times a night on average on account of these disruptions.
Sleeping Alone Means Fewer Disruptions
On the other hand, sleeping alone means there’s nobody who would move and disrupt your sleep. One study even found that when you don’t have to deal with someone’s snores, you experience a 13% improvement in sleep efficiency—that’s about 62 more minutes of peaceful sleep. Moreover, you do not have to deal with body heat or waking up in the bitter cold without a blanket.
So with all the apparent benefits of sleeping on separate beds, why do couples choose to sleep together? Simple—the brain is hardwired to be social and prioritize closeness and security over sleep quality. The mind is preoccupied with not being alone in the dead of night.
Should Couples Sleep Apart?
Although all the evidence points to the benefits of sleeping apart, the issue is not that simple. There are several factors at play apart from sleep disruptions, including sleep-wake patterns. Partners who are out of sync (the night owl and the early bird, for instance) might be detrimental to each other’s sleep. On the other hand, there are anecdotes from couples who feel a stronger bond with one another if they occupy one mattress.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to sleeping woes; you will have to find a sleeping arrangement that works for both of you. Just remember to pay attention to the duration and quality of your sleep. Physical touch may reinforce intimacy, but a good night’s rest makes you healthier and puts you in a better mood—qualities needed for a stable and long-lasting relationship.