Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Couples Sleeping Apart

This is a touchy subject for me! I am such a bad sleeper. Everything wakes me up. I sleep at night with earplugs, a noise maker and I shut the door. I still hear the baby crying in his room down the hall. It's ridiculous. When people say, "let the baby cry. He's old enough to sleep through the night." I can't because I can hear him no matter what I do. Plus, I don't want to let him cry, but that's beside the point. I do sleep better when I am alone, but I don't think it's a great idea for a husband and a wife to have separate rooms. Right now, sleep is most important for me! Do you and your husband sleep in the same bed?

From The NewYorkTimes:MY grandparents had a secret. When I was growing up in Savannah, Ga., in the 1970s, my paternal grandparents lived in the house immediately behind us. (My uncle lived next door in a set-up my father likened to Faulkner.) But my grandparents did something in their otherwise typical suburban home that was always something of a mystery to me.

They slept in separate bedrooms.

I speculated that this bifurcated sleeping arrangement had something to do with Southern gentility, Papa’s late-night ham radio habit, or some unseen rift in their marriage. But since my parents slept in side-by-side twin beds, and my wife and I later chose a king-size mattress, I assumed separate bedrooms had gone the way of other bygone relics, like sleeping caps or corsets.

I was wrong. It turns out my grandparents were ahead of their time.

Nearly one in four American couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, the National Sleep Foundation reported in a 2005 survey. Recent studies in England and Japan have found similar results. And the National Association of Home Builders says it expects 60 percent of custom homes to have dual master bedrooms by 2015.

Even Hollywood is catching on. The former bodyguard for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt told In Touch Weekly recently that the couple often sleep in separate rooms. (Ms. Jolie informed Vanity Fair that the couple sometimes sleep in one “giant bed” with their six children.) In Touch also reported this spring that five months after Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers traded his purity ring for a wedding band, he was sleeping separately from his wife. The reason, a friend said: “He snores like a freight train.”

(In Touch apparently has become the Official Chronicler of American Bedding.)

The marital bed, once the symbol of American matrimony on a par with the diamond ring, the tiered wedding cake and his-and-hers martinis, is threatened with extinction. “Till Death Do Us Part” is fast becoming “Till Sleep Do Us Part.”

Separate sleepers cite a bevy of reasons for their habit, including apnea, restless leg syndrome, his insistence on watching “SportsCenter,” her need to get up early for yoga. As Barbara Tober, the former chairwoman of the Museum of Arts and Design, told The New York Times recently, “Not that we don’t love each other, but at a certain point you just want your own room.”

“What happened in the last decade,” said Dr. Meir Kryger, a sleep specialist at Gaylord Hospital in Connecticut, “is that people are suddenly making their own sleep a priority. If their rest is being impaired by their partner, the attitude now is that I don’t have to put up with this.”

Children represent another threat. Dr. William Sears, a leader of the “attachment parenting” movement, reports in the 2005 “Baby Sleep Book” that two-thirds of American families say they “sometimes” or “always” sleep with a child in their bed. Another 16 percent welcome a pet under the covers.

From Yahoo: A recent article in The New York Times points out the trend of more and more couples sleeping in separate rooms. Nearly one in four American couples does so and, according the National Association of Home Builders, it's expected that 60 percent of custom homes will have dual master bedrooms by 2015. Bonus: Beat the heat with one of these no-cook meals tonight This got us thinking: Is this a healthy trend? I mean, sure, occasionally we think we'd get a better night's sleep with a wall (or two) between us and our snoring, TV-watching, sheet-hogging Sig O. But would our relationship suffer?

To get to the bottom of it, we asked Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Romance), psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stops Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, for her take: "Sleeping apart can contribute to the disconnect that plagues many relationships," Tessina says. "It just makes it easier to avoid each other, when what's really needed is connection and contact. There are solutions to snoring and restlessness -- a memory foam mattress will stop restlessness from being felt by a partner and snoring can be helped in a number of ways."

A bit more motivation to sleep in the same bed: * Your man may get a better night's sleep when you're with him. In a study published in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms, researchers found that while women slept less soundly when they shared a bed with someone they're romantically involved with, men actually slept better when next to a woman. Work out whatever issues you have with his sleeping habits and you both might get some high-quality shut-eye.
* Bedtime isn't always for sleep, if you catch our drift. It's also prime for intimacy: snuggling and sex. This private time is crucial, especially if you have kiddies (a.k.a. nookie police). Sure you could meet him in "his" room, get it on, then flee back to "your" room. But then sex becomes a scheduled chore rather than an organic, meaningful, spontaneous activity.

Bonus: See how you can dine like a star
* Nighttime, while you're side by side, is one of the best times to communicate with each other. Between work and other responsibilities, you only have small snippets of uninterrupted time to communicate during the day. With the door shut (and iPhones snuggled into their charging stations), between the sheets is the place where you can truly talk about what's on your mind, without interruption by kid, dog, phone, cable guy, etc. "Cuddling up together and talking quietly is a great perk of married life," says Tessina. "Couples who know how to do that, and do it regularly, fare better than couples who don't." Bottom line: Try to solve whatever sleep incompatibility issues exist between you and your partner before fleeing for the guest room.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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