Is It Time for a Sleep Divorce?
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Recently, Cameron Diaz caught a lot of people’s attention when she said, “We should normalize separate bedrooms [from your spouse or partner].”
“To me, I would literally, I have my house, you have yours. We have the family house in the middle. I will go and sleep in my room. You go sleep in your room. I’m fine,” the 51-year-old retired actress said.
Diaz has been married to her husband, musician Benji Madden, for eight years. They have a three-year-old daughter together. She then went on to say that they would have a specific room for “relations” and that her husband is wonderful and she had these beliefs before she even got married.Social media certainly had a lot to say about this.
Some thought this was a bit tone deaf. Diaz is a very successful and wealthy actress who can certainly afford a large house with plenty of bedrooms.
“Like 60% of the country can't afford a studio apartment.” - @rollanchott
“Yeah she doesn't realize everyone else is poor.” - @21ohh
Others had their reservations.
“Who the hell wants to sleep alone. There is nothing better than waking up and enjoying cuddle time every day of the year.” - @r_stiene
“Seriously? Do you discuss it?!” - @aleksey_chirkoff
While some completely agreed and are even practicing separate sleeping from their spouse.
“My husband and I simply cannot sleep in the same bed. He’s a heavy sleeper and I’m a light sleeper, he’s big I’m small his adhd makes it hard for him to sleep at night I can’t sleep during the day. The only way for either of us to sleep is apart. It has worked for us for over 15 years.” - @yentebonnin
“Sleep is so important and a sensitive experience. If that works then people shouldn’t be ashamed or care if others don’t agree.” - @pink_flamingo_has_landed
I agree that sleep is very important. To give you some perspective on just how important sleep is, a lack of quality sleep has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression.
I also agree that sleep is a very sensitive experience. Everyone’s experience with sleep is so different. It’s very rare that two people who sleep in the same bed will have the same sleeping habits or sleep just as soundly as the other. Some people are able to fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and stay that way throughout the night. Others struggle to fall asleep and are light sleepers.
I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions. Goal setting can be great and inspiring, but I think we have to detach from this notion that there is an ideal time to begin healthier habits. The ideal time is NOW, however, I do think one 2024 resolution most of us could stand to have is getting more and better sleep! Research has shown that less than one third of American adults are getting restorative sleep every night.
If you find yourself nudging your snoring partner every night or are constantly waking up in the middle of the night due to your partner moving too much, it might be time for a sleep divorce if your home permits you to have one. It may not be talked about much, but many people are already doing it.
“Almost half (43%) of millennials occasionally or consistently sleep in another room to accommodate a bed partner, followed by one-third (33%) of those in Generation X, 28% of those in Generation Z and 22% of baby boomers,” reports the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“Getting the right amount of healthy sleep is important for relationships. Studies have shown that those in relationships who consistently experience poor sleep are more likely to engage in conflict with their partners and that sleep loss decreases levels of empathetic accuracy — meaning those who do not have enough sleep may be less able to understand or interpret their partners’ feelings.”
If you feel like you and your partner need a sleep divorce but there is no way your home will allow you to do this, there are other ways you can try to improve sleep experience for the both of you. For example, snoring is often caused by carrying excess weight.
Being overweight could also put you at a greater risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea occurs during sleep when you have pauses in breathing. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes and be extremely dangerous, because they cause the oxygen level in your brain to drop. When your oxygen level drops, your brain does whatever it can to get you to resume breathing. So the snorting and choking sounds you hear when someone like your spouse snores is really them gasping for air, because the brain is not getting enough oxygen. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to an increased risk of brain damage, stroke, heart attack and ultimately death.
“Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a global disease with a rising incidence along with its comorbidities, especially with metabolic syndrome. One of the main components contributing to sleep apnea is obesity; as well as diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM), hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Addressing weight issues through dietary changes and exercise is a great way to improve sleep for both you and your spouse or partner. In addition to this, getting sufficient and quality sleep has been linked to a healthier weight.
Restless leg syndrome, which is actually considered to be a sleep disorder, is another common condition that can keep your bed sharing partner tossing and turning. Talk to your doctor about ways you can improve this issue.
“Restless legs syndrome may also be an indication of a more serious problem: low iron,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.
“You can also try adding folate and magnesium to your diet, which have been shown in small studies to help some with restless legs syndrome. Find these in lentils, beans, dark leafy greens, almonds and edamame.”
Magnesium has also been linked to better sleep.
It is also important to hold yourself accountable and practice good sleep hygiene. For example, if you have a television in your bedroom I highly recommend moving it out. Avoid all screens as much as possible a couple of hours before bedtime. If you absolutely must expose yourself to a screen, wear blue light glasses. For more proactive tips, check out How to Sleep Your Way to Good Health.
Finally, I also suggest getting a nutritional test. Nutrient testing will generally identify whether you have the right balance of nutrients in your system to help you sleep and live a balanced and healthy life.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
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