It’s a well-known fact that actress Helena Bonham Carter and her film director partner Tim Burton sleep in adjoining houses to strengthen their relationship.
Now we are not saying you need to take such drastic measures and sleep in separate houses but sleeping in separate bedrooms can be the next best thing for some – as it is thought that one in four couples now sleep in separate rooms.
However there is growing evidence that couples who sleep together not only stay together but stay healthier too. Sharing a bed is the ultimate intimacy and latest research from America suggests that this intimacy helps to lower stress hormones and encourage feelings of safety and security.
However the lure of the spare bed becomes increasingly difficult to resist for some – particularly among more mature couples whose children may have left home. The result is a growing number of couples sleeping in separate rooms.
However sleeping apart might not be a bed of roses! It can be the beginning of the end for many marriages. You only have to look at previous lovebirds Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes who apparently slept apart for weeks leading up to the divorce!
To help combat the Separate Rooms Syndrome we have some much needed tips on sharing a bed:
• Both partners going to bed at the same time at least three nights a week. Different body clocks mean many couples tuck up at different times – alarm bells should sound when that starts to happen every night of the week.
• Ensure the shared bed is comfortable for both partners and not just suited to one. Be sure to shop together for a new bed and get one that suits both people. Modern technology means even couples with different preferences can find a bed that suits them both thanks to zip-and-link or zoned mattresses.
• Where duvet hogging is an issue, separate single duvets can work wonders.
• Separate duvets can also work for bed sharers who have different temperature requirements. As a comfortable temperature (between 18 and 24 degrees centigrade) is essential to a good night’s sleep, individual duvets with a tog rating suited to each partner will put an end to heated debates of the ‘too warm, too cold’ nature.
• Buy as big a bed as budget and room size allow. A standard double bed is only 4’6” wide which gives each person just the width of a baby’s cot to sleep in. More room means less partner disturbance.
• Ensure the bedroom is an oasis of calm and tranquillity – i.e. no tellies or any other technology likely to distract attention away from sleep and intimacy.
• Make sure window coverings effectively block out the light. Long summer days may be welcome in many ways but light can have a detrimental effect on body clocks and sleeping patterns.
• Develop a bedtime routine that works for both people. Body clocks need regularity and routine for successful sleep – share a warm milky or herbal drink or even a bath together before going to bed. And try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day.
• Remember that caffeine, alcohol, smoking and exercising or eating too close to bedtime can all make it more difficult to grab a great night’s sleep.
• When snoring becomes a significant and ongoing problem, seek help. What starts off as a niggle can become a major issue for many couples – so get it sorted!
• ‘Roll together’ is a sure sign the shared bed has had its day and needs replacing. It may be a charming characteristic in the early, heady days of a relationship but, like snoring, it’s one that all too soon wears extremely thin. A new bed will end the bickering.
So we ask: is sharing a bed a help or a hindrance? We would love to hear your views on this topic.
Lisa – The Sleep Council Team