Could sleeping apart perk up your love life? More couples are opting for separate bedrooms - with surprising results

By Diana Appleyard

Mike and Jean Collom have ­performed the same ritual every night for the past eight years. They exchange a loving kiss, a warm embrace, wish one another a peaceful night’s rest — and then disappear into separate bedrooms.

The happily married couple, from Chippenham in Wiltshire, have decided that, for them, the key to a successful relationship lies in sleeping apart.

I’m sure it’s why our marriage works so well,’ says Jean, a 58-year-old professional gardener.

Key to a happy relationship? More and more couples are opting for separate bedrooms, according to sleep experts

‘I couldn’t stand Mike’s snoring, and would have to wake him to stop it — which meant that ­neither of us was getting a decent night’s sleep.

‘The solution was obvious. I now sleep in the marital bed, as I like to sit up and read, and Mike has moved to the single bed in the spare room.’

The sleep solution has proved so successful that they now insist on separate rooms wherever they go — even though this can cause a raised eyebrow at times.

‘Our friends do think it’s odd, and some have assumed our marriage has problems,’ says Jean.

‘But, in fact, the complete opposite is true: we’re taking action to avoid problems. I’m not in the least embarrassed for people to know we sleep apart.’

While the majority of married couples do share a double bed, there’s no doubt that a growing number — and particularly those in high-powered jobs — are choosing to sleep separately, shunning convention in return for quality rest.

The natural assumption would be that couples who don’t share a bed do not have as fulfilling a sex life as those who do. But Jean is quick to knock down that theory.

‘If either of us is feeling in the mood, then we start off the night in bed with each other, but then move before we fall asleep.

And occasionally we’ll tiptoe down the hallway and pay one another a visit, which has an element of “naughtiness” to it that makes us feel young again.’

Her husband Mike, a 62-year-old special needs teacher, believes the arrangement has strengthened their marriage.

He says: ‘Because we both get a good night’s sleep, we argue much less than many other couples, and we make an effort to be more tactile with each other the rest of the time.’

It’s no coincidence that 45-year-old Dr Neil Stanley, one of this country’s leading sleep experts, does not share a bed with his wife of nine years.

‘Human beings get the best sleep on their own,’ he says. ‘If you take a standard 4ft 6in double bed, then you are allowing each adult less personal space than a child would have in a single bed. It makes no sense.’

And his own research has convinced him that the number of couples sleeping apart is on the increase.

‘Couples who sleep together suffer sleep disturbance for at least 50 per cent of the night, whether that’s caused by snoring, fidgeting, duvet-stealing or trips to the loo,’ he says.

‘It isn’t the done thing in Britain for happily married people to admit they don’t share a bed, but I know that many couples are doing this.’

The belief that married couples should sleep together began in Tudor times.

‘Before that, only the poor would sleep together,’ says Dr Stanley. ‘If you look round stately homes, there are always separate bedrooms for the Lord and his wife.

‘Our own Queen and Prince Philip have this arrangement, and they seem to have had a long and happy ­marriage as a result.’

The Tudor Age saw the beginning of the explosion of the ‘middle classes’, through increased trade. For the first time, it meant there was a group of people — neither rich nor poor — who didn’t have enough room to sleep apart, and yet had social status.Read more


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