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Susan Adcox

Grandparents, Others Keep Mum About Separate Bedrooms

By July 24, 2010

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In a NY Times article published yesterday, author Bruce Feiler shares a family secret: His grandparents didn't sleep together. Today lots of couples are sleeping separately, but most of them still keep it a secret. According to a source quoted by Feiler, one in four American couples sleep separately. An earlier Times article reports that some housebuilding couples are requesting two master suites or a sleeping nook off the master suite. But even when couples plan for separate bedrooms, they seldom advertise the fact. There's still a stigma attached to sleeping separately.

Lots of factors enter into separate sleeping, but snoring is the number one complaint. As people become older and heavier, snoring increases. Still, other situations can make separate bedrooms desirable:

  • Bedmates who disturb their partners by watching TV, listening to the radio, or using electronics
  • Partners who have different biological clocks or different work schedules
  • Parents whose children sometimes invade their bed
  • Restless sleepers whose movements disturb the partner

It's not just grandparents who are declining to share the sheets, although empty nesters naturally have more choices of places to sleep. And don't assume that couples who don't sleep together don't have sex. Maybe they have more sex because they are getting more rest and aren't ticked at each other in the morning!

Read more about sleep solutions from Sheri & Bob Stritof, Guides to Marriage.

What do you think about couples sleeping separately? Leave a comment below.

July 25, 2010 at 2:28 am
(1) Martin Hodges says:

Isn’t it ironic that a generation that was frowned upon for sleeping together outside of marriage, now suffers the stigma associated with sleeping apart?

Also, how many of us have chosen not to think of our parents or grandparents snuggling up together. ‘You mean, they still do that at their age? Yuck!’

The fact is, sleeping together or apart shouldn’t been used to measure the strength of a relationship. My parents slept in separate rooms for years. My grandparents shared the same bed until they were in their 90s.

July 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm
(2) Susan Adcox says:

Too funny, Martin! Our generation scandalized our parents by sleeping together and now we’re scandalizing our children by sleeping apart.

Actually, in my informal study of the subject, I’ve been surprised (though not scandalized) by the number of young people who sleep apart from their partners. I’ve also been surprised by the number of people who sleep with pets. Almost half of the pet owners who keep their pets inside at night share the bed with them, according to one source.

July 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm
(3) Grandma Shelley says:

One thing I do know about myself is when we end up in a hotel room with two beds I usually end up taking advantage of the other bed sometime during the night. Having a whole bed to myself is a real treat every once in a while.

No pets for me as bed companions!

July 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm
(4) Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs says:

My husband and I sleep apart more often than we sleep together because his insomnia makes us both batty and he’s nice enough to take it to the other room. Luckily an empty nest allows us to each have our own room, when needed. It saddens me sometimes, but then my need for sleep overrides the sadness. We all simply do what we gotta do, I suppose.

July 26, 2010 at 10:43 am
(5) Karen says:

We just kind of slipped into it. We found we both sleep better, so now that’s what we do. When we go to the weekend house, it is really a problem if they kids and their families are there – we only have three bedrooms there. But at least we have twin beds there. My mother and father in law had separate rooms. I never much thought of it before is became our way too!

July 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm
(6) Pat Curryd says:

My in-laws had twin bedrooms rather than twin beds but every night he was there to give her a massage and tuck her in. I do enjoy a sleep-apart when we are in a motel. Mostly it is nice to not have to worry about kicking the dog and getting growled at!

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