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Some couples miss their single days, when they could splay out starfish-style on their queen-sized beds uninhibited by a partner's limbs or unfazed by his or her snores. If you're not one of them, you might be surprised to know that 25 percent of married couples sleep in separate beds, according to surveys conducted by the U.S. National Sleep Foundation. With numbers like that, should you consider sleeping solo? We asked an expert to weigh in.
Sleeping separately "usually has to do with getting a good night's sleep," explains Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of The 30-Day Love Detox. "Snoring, back problems, and more can make bed sharing difficult." Or, if a couple has welcomed a new baby into their lives, the tiny tot may need to share the bed with his or her nursing mother and "so dad has to be temporarily ousted," she says.
When you sleep in separate beds, you risk losing the positive effects of dopamine and oxytocin, happy hormones that are released when you're touched, Walsh explains. Plus, a study "showed that the closer a couple slept together, the happier their relationship," she says. But if you truly can't clock a good night's Z's while sharing a bed, or your infant needs the space your spouse once occupied, using separate beds won't wreck your relationship.
"If all touch has stopped and sleeping separately has created separate emotional lives, that's a sign of a problem," Walsh says. Otherwise, "people may be quick to judge. Plenty of healthy, long-term marriages go through phases and stages. And sometimes a good night's sleep is more important than spooning all night. My advice: Replace the lost touch with snuggles at other times of the day. Wrap around each other on the couch while you watch a movie or read the paper." You'll reap similar benefits as if you were sharing a bed, and still log a solid eight hours at night.