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Relationships

Why sleeping solo might be the best thing that ever happened to your relationship

Think sleeping in separate beds is only for couples on the verge of a break-up? Think again.

Are you considering a sleeping separation?
Whether it's snoring, insomnia or tossing and turning that's getting you down, studies show that sleeping in separate beds can improve the quality of your sleep while rekindling romance in your relationship.
While you may think sleeping apart means your relationship is headed for disaster, that is not always the case.
"I think we are starting to move away from the assumption that couples who sleep in separate beds are on the verge of a break-up," says relationship therapist Amanda Joy Robb.
For many couples, it has significant benefits.
"Deciding to sleep apart needs to be a change both partners agree on," Amanda says.
"If it's one-sided, the other partner may feel rejected and be left questioning why their partner doesn't want to sleep by their side."
Whether it's a temporary or more long-term option, it's important both partners are happy with the change.
"If a partner is starting to feel like sleeping separately is becoming a negative factor, agree to re-evaluate the decision," Amanda advises.
If you're doing it for the right reasons, separate beds can be great for your health.
In most cases, couples choose to go it alone because of disruptive behaviours such as snoring, restless legs or opposing schedules. It could also be prompted by serious illness or injury, so an alternative arrangement may improve the quality of sleep for everyone.
Studies suggest that losing sleep due to a partner's long-term health problem – such as sleep apnoea – can increase your risk of developing an illness such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and/or diabetes.
"It's for those kinds of practical and physical reasons that it's just simply easier to get a better night's sleep if you're sleeping in separate beds," says psychologist Dr Joann Lukins.
Sometimes sleeping in the same bed is the only quality time extremely busy couples get to spend together.
"If the interpersonal and social contact drops away, it can be easy to slip from being a couple to being more like flatmates," says Joan.
But with a little bit of planning you can still sleep separately and maintain quality time.
Lock in one-on-one time with your partner so you can both still enjoy the good stuff, such as cuddling and pillow talk, and develop a regular routine so you can maintain closeness without sacrificing proper, restful sleep.
Sleeping separately only works if the focus for both of you is to improve your quality of sleep.
"If a couple is able to maintain other things in their relationship, such as intimacy – which is often something linked to the bedroom – it can be an arrangement that works really well for couples," says Joan.
However, if couples just don't want to sleep together, they should consider addressing the cause of the problem.
If it's medical, talk to your GP. If it's environmental, consider a customised mattress, or having two single beds in one room.
"The most important thing for couples to remember is that choosing to sleep separately does not have to impact your sex life," says Joan, who warns, "Couples who routinely engage in sexual activity at night or in the morning might need to renegotiate to ensure the intimacy doesn't get sidelined."
If you take steps to keep the romance and passion alive, what starts out as a great idea to get more sleep may stay just that.
Sleep is the ultimate "me time", so it's no surprise that more and more couples are choosing to sleep in separate beds.
In many cases, it's a practical decision – maybe you like to read late into the night with the light on, while your partner prefers sleeping in the dark with the fan on.
Whatever the case may be, if left unresolved, a sleep disturbance or mismatch can end up leading to bigger relationship problems.
This is where other sleeping arrangements offer relief.

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