4 Couples Who Sleep in Separate Rooms Share Why It’s Actually the Best (For Them!)

published Feb 14, 2023
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There’s a trending and taboo topic making its way around TikTok, and I’m willing to bet more than a few of you are curious about it — even if you’re not quite willing to admit it out loud. The subject at hand? Sleeping separately from your partner.

More and more people are shining light on something that hasn’t been depicted in the mainstream since 1960s sitcoms. Think about the advantages: You can decorate your own room exactly as you’d like (it’s like the excitement of being a middle schooler, finally graduating from sharing a room with your younger sister, all over again!). You don’t have to worry about someone who runs hot or runs cold, or about someone who insists squishy down pillows are the pinnacle of comfort. There’s no need to fight over blackout shades versus letting the morning light stream in. 

However, you’re also not going to sleep and wake up next to your partner. Plus, there’s the extra bedroom issue — as in, you need one. While the ’60s sitcoms may conjure images of couples laying feet apart in separate twin beds, many duos today are opting instead for bedrooms of their own. It’s a luxury, to be sure, but one that resolves issues like disruptive snoring and single bedrooms simply not big enough for two adult beds.

So how do partnered people decide to take the plunge into separate spaces? For some couples, it’s a matter of differing Sleepopolis explains how she handles couples whose sleeping habits just won’t mesh, saying, “If someone is snoring in their sleep, I encourage them to get evaluated first.” However, if there’s no improvement, she says, then it’s time to consider separate spaces, but with a caveat. “It’s really important that both partners have equal sleep environments that are both comfortable and promote quality sleep — this can help to prevent any resentment that may result from one partner getting poor sleep.”

Sound like a scenario that might help you get some quality shut eye? Here are four couples who’ve done it, who haven’t looked back, and why they say it works for them.

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“What’s sexier than constantly choosing your partner?”

Los Angeles-based Melanie and her partner had the “what would your ideal sleeping arrangements look like?” conversation long before they seriously talked about moving in together. Ideas like across-the-hall apartments or next door houses were playful tossed around as each shared their needs for personal space and how they both recharge emotionally. When it came to actually moving forward with the idea, they kept in mind that personal preferences shouldn’t be taken personally.

They each prioritized their independence within the relationship, and felt that enabled them to better show up fully for each other. “For us we truly feel that when a decision like this — to live together but rest and recharge individually — is made with full honesty, transparency, integrity, and consent, partners sleeping separately can be the most beautiful, supportive, and enriching arrangement a couple can have!” explains Melanie.

Now, they each have solo rooms within their home and find they have better sleep, better boundaries, and better communication because they can’t default to a status quo. They have both their time together and their emotional and literal space to themselves when they need it. 

Plus, Melanie says,Increased intention fosters intimacy and desire because co-sleeping or having sex in bed is a proactive, mindful choice. What’s sexier than constantly choosing your partner and feeling chosen?”

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“I love sleeping in the middle of a king size bed with the dogs”

When Samantha and her husband, who live in Raleigh, North Carolina, first started sleeping in different rooms, it came as a surprise to her, but her husband did it with her sleep in mind. He was staying up late and getting up early and Samantha, as a light sleeper, would have been up with his every move. Add in his snoring and his tendency to set his alarm early — like really early — with the snooze button going off over and over and over again, and she quickly got on board, realizing this was her pass to peaceful sleep.

There weren’t ground rules set then — and there still haven’t been. They’ve found it’s what works for them, and, now, they primarily only share a bed when traveling. “However, we have been known to separate even in those cases and one sleeps on the couch in the living room if his snoring is bad!” says Samantha.

As introverts, both have found rest and relaxation in creating their own spaces to wind down. “His is a bat cave with darkness and mine is full of natural light and plants. I’ve also realized that I love sleeping in the middle of a king size bed with the dogs,” adds Samantha.

But she does note that it affects time for intimacy. “We spend time together after the work day in the living room, watching TV, cooking, etc. We’ll spend the weekends together out exploring but you don’t fall asleep and wake up to one another,” says Samantha. It’s something they’re working on. 

Samantha says that she initially avoided letting others know about their arrangement. “It seemed taboo or like we were doing married life wrong,” she says. But, as she’s let more people in on their bedtime secret, she’s discovered most people don’t judge one way or another. They realize what works for one person might not work for another, and that’s fine!

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“It doesn’t impact our relationship at all”

When Katya and her husband first started sleeping apart, they were also living apart while she finished her master’s in one place and he was stationed with the military in another. Life brought them back together when Katya wrapped up her degree and they went back to sleeping in the same bed — temporarily. Pregnancy brought hyperemesis gravidarum and Katya was often up all night violently ill. With an extra bedroom at the ready, they figured it didn’t make sense for them both to totally lose sleep, and went back to sleeping separately. But this time, under one roof.

Now, a few years later, they’ve graduated from a three-bedroom house to a four-bedroom in Northville, Michigan so they can both have their own large primary suites that they use only for sleep and working from home. “We never made any rules, but we normally hang out in the living room prior to sleep and just wander to our separate bedrooms. It doesn’t impact our relationship at all, it’s just as strong if not slightly more rested.”

This arrangement also gave them the opportunity to put their own stamp on the spaces, with his filled with military items, challenge coins, and memorabilia amidst family photos, and hers covered with built-in bookshelves stuffed with books, maps and memories of travel, and family photos on the wall.

She says the reaction from friends and family is a mixed bag. Some think it sounds like the way to go, while others find it a little odd. But she adds that they don’t advertise it. “It could come up if a family member or friend is staying with us that we each have a primary bedroom and bathroom and so our guest suite is on another floor,” explains Katya.

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“When we do anything together, it’s because we want to be together”

Lyndis and her boyfriend have a unique living together-but-separate situation. Their bedrooms in their Sherbrooke, Quebec apartment building are on different floors — and in different apartments. 

When they broached the subject of moving in together, Lyndis immediately knew she didn’t want to give up her apartment, with its original 1800s wood floors, 12-foot ceilings, and incredible city views. She also was self aware that she’s particular in her preferences and her penchant for a firm bed with white linens and a fluffy white duvet and pillows. So her boyfriend found the apartment immediately downstairs, where he can have all the memory foam pillows his heart desires. 

The arrangement may be uncommon but it works for them, and it allows them both to keep their apartments in the way they prefer, without worrying whether the other person has to compromise. “I know if we lived together I would do the majority of the housework, and I refuse to clean up after anybody. I was a nanny for 13 years and to me, cleaning up after anyone but yourself is work,” says Lyndis. Yet their relationship has many of the hallmarks most associate with a “traditional” committed relationship, even down to the shared Costco membership and Netflix account.

At the end of the day, Lyndis explains that their relationship is stronger because of all the conscious choices they make. She says, “When we do anything together, it’s because we want to be together. If we’re watching TV together, if we want to eat together, sleep together, do an errand together, it’s because we want to do it together.” 

February is Bedroom Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re sharing stories all month about bedrooms — from how to sleep in them, decorate them, make the most of small ones, and so much more. Head over here to see them all!