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should couples sleep in different beds
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Cutting out co-sleeping may improve your relationship.

When my boyfriend and I finally decided to sleep separately, we saw it as admitting defeat. We had fought long and valiantly—earplugs, sleep studies, some medicated chocolate, the whole nine yards—but in the end our love simply wasn’t strong enough to win in the battle against snoring and restless leg syndrome. Or at least, that’s what it felt like.

It didn’t help that by the time we had reached this decision, we were both so sleep-deprived that our home had turned into a war zone of irritability. We fought about everything. (I mean, clearly I was right about it all, but still!) It felt like maybe the only thing that truly had fallen asleep was our love for one another.

So as we shopped for an additional bed, it was hard to not worry whether or not this was simply a bad omen. A test we had failed. The beginning of the end.

But then that extra bed came. I call it our “inanimate couple’s counselor” for the way it saved our relationship.

With every passing night, I found myself less agitated, calmer and dare I say … happier. My boyfriend noticed the same effects. We even organically created a sweet morning and evening ritual that involved more cuddling and affection. The very thing we feared losing (our intimacy) had been revived. Improved, even.

After arriving at such bliss, it almost seems silly to think that we both tried to hold onto something that clearly wasn’t working, even at the expense of our health. And for what? To prove our everlasting love?

Apparently my boyfriend and I are far from outliers with this dilemma. Lots of people still think that separate beds means there’s a problem with the relationship.

Wendy M. Troxel Ph.D. is a senior behavioral and social scientist, internationally recognized for her work exploring the effects of sleep on health, the global economy and, of course, couples.

The question Troxel gets asked most frequently from concerned couples is, “Is it bad if my partner and I sleep apart?”

Short answer: no. And it might be time that we put this notion to bed.


The origin story of sleeping together = LOVE.

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Troxel shares in an essay for the TED blog that until the sexual revolution, the term “sleeping together” had a much more literal meaning. And that shift in cultural attitudes still influences us to equate separate beds with a lack of passion.

But considering we spend more time sleeping than making love, perhaps it’s time to shift priorities and release ourselves from this society-prescribed torture. In my experience, love doesn’t thrive in obligation.

The science suggests that our relationships might be better after sleeping separately.

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Troxel’s research indicates that being well rested helps improve communication and makes us happier, more empathetic, even more attractive and funnier—all skills that help contribute to a strong and lasting relationship.

Inversely, we all know how monstrous we can become after a sleepless night. I remember during one particularly rough morning I refused to kiss my boyfriend goodbye because I resented him and his snoring. It wasn’t my best moment.

Plus, finding a good sleep solution can be a majorly helpful exercise in problem-solving together, which is yet another cornerstone of relationship success.

Lots of couples (more than you may realize) are sleeping separately anyway.

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According to a 2021 poll, around one-third of couples prefer solo sleep. This might have been a privilege previously only known to the wealthy few (not everyone could bed like kings and queens, after all) but it’s easier now more than ever to afford and fit in a second sleeping space.

I mean, my boyfriend and I live in L.A.—meaning a tiny apartment with a less-than-generous floor plan. But we purchased a cushy daybed for our living room, placed some plants around it and now call it the “Zen corner” when guests visit. So far, so good.

Plus, there are so many other ways to invite closeness other than sleeping together.

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Working out, morning coffee cuddles, tucking each other in … the list goes on. And who knows? Maybe those new rituals will feel even better than sleeping together. Especially if you're both in better moods.

And it’s not like there has to be 100% commitment to either strategy. My boyfriend and I still share the bed every once in a while. And now it feels extra special, rather than an obligation.

Of course, the caveat to this is why you’re choosing to sleep in different spots in the first place. But if the intention is to take care of the relationship—rather than avoid it—then taking care of yourself, as we are learning more and more, is one of the first steps.

Bottom line: Rest is a necessity, not a luxury.

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A healthy relationship is composed of two healthy people. And sleep absolutely affects our health. If it means doing so separately, who cares? What’s most important is that both partners are fulfilled, nourished and energized by more than caffeine.

Sleeping habits, like life, can be more of a choose-your-own-adventure, rather than a set of rules. Choose what feels best, and you often can’t go wrong.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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