A bedroom has two separate beds for sleeping.

Exploring Separate Sleeping Arrangements and Solutions for Restful Nights

High-quality sleep is as important as a good diet and exercise when it comes to supporting your long-term health. Most importantly, sleep is a vital way that our bodies maintain proper brain function. In the long term, consistent sleep deprivation can cause a wide range of side effects, including anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, substance abuse, impaired brain function, and reduced longevity.

There are many circumstances that can cause interrupted sleep, and one of these is disruptions from your environment. If you co-sleep with your partner, they can be a source of such environmental disruptions. Snoring, movement, body heat, sleep talking, sleepwalking, and more can all cause disturbances in the night that wake the other partner or prevent them from going to sleep in the first place.

If this is a consistent problem in your relationship, it may be practical to consider separate sleeping arrangements. While some may be hesitant to consider this due to cultural norms or various personal preferences and perspectives, it is worth evaluating whether permanent or intermittent separation of sleeping quarters might be the best choice for your overall health and wellness.

Reasons to Consider Separate Sleeping Arrangements

As mentioned, there are a wide variety of reasons that people in a relationship may consider separate sleeping arrangements. It is also important to understand that these issues may be permanent, temporary, or intermittent, and may need to be approached with this in mind.

Sleep Disturbances

A variety of sleep disturbances can originate from your partner as you try to sleep. These can vary widely but can include:

  • Snoring
  • Sleep movement
  • Sleep talking
  • Sleepwalking
  • Discomfort from body heat
  • Restlessness

Some of these issues may originate from an underlying problem such as stress or a medical condition, and as such may be overcome with treatment.

Different Sleep Preferences

You and your partner may also have different sleep preferences, practices, and habits, which may result in sleep incompatibility. These may include:

  • Temperature preferences
  • Preference for bed firmness
  • Preferences for bedding materials
  • Opinions about co-sleeping with children and pets
  • Differing childcare duties
  • Typical time to go to bed and rise
  • Preferred sleeping positions
  • Preferences for type and amount of ambient sound
  • Various anxieties related to sleep and management techniques for them

You may be able to make adjustments to these preferences and practices to better suit a co-sleeping arrangement, but temporary or permanent separate sleeping arrangements may also be useful.

Medical Conditions

As mentioned, some issues related to sleep disturbance may be caused by an underlying medical condition. Medical conditions that may cause sleep disturbances include:

GERD: GERD can cause a variety of issues during sleep that may disrupt both the sufferer and their partner, such as coughing, throat clearing, snoring, and vomiting. You can treat this with medications such as acid reducers, as well as lifestyle modifications such as adjustment to diet and sleep arrangements.

This may include changes such as cutting acidic foods and alcohol out of their diet and elevating the head and upper body at night. However, in chronic cases, minimally-invasive interventions such as the TIF 2.0 procedure may be recommended by a doctor.

RLS: Restless leg syndrome can disrupt a partner’s sleep due to the need to move one’s legs. This can be managed through at-home treatments such as massage and heat application. People who experience severe symptoms may benefit from medications such as dopaminergics.

Anxiety disorders: Many anxiety disorders can result in sleep disturbances, due to related issues like racing thoughts that can cause you to toss and turn, and nagging concerns that cause you to rise from bed throughout the night.

Anxiety disorders may be addressed through a variety of medications, behavioral treatments, and soothing practices. It is important to have your anxiety disorder properly diagnosed so that doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists can develop an individual treatment ideal for your needs.

Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can cause snoring, while others like parasomnias can cause a variety of issues like movement and vocalization. Different sleep disorders will require different treatments, and the person experiencing symptoms may benefit from a sleep study to assess their condition.

Chronic pain: Chronic pain can cause issues such as tossing and turning, rising from bed, and noises of discomfort. Additionally, the sufferer’s partner may inadvertently jostle them in their sleep, causing disruption from and for all parties involved. Chronic pain may be caused by a variety of conditions or past traumatic injuries and therefore will require assessment from a doctor for proper treatment.

It is also important to bear in mind that if you or your partner are already being treated for a condition that is causing sleep disruption, but disruptions continue, your treatment may need to be adjusted.

Approaching the Discussion

For some, it may feel difficult to approach the topic of separate sleeping arrangements, as it may go against cultural conventions and personal expectations. However, it is important to ensure that this is a joint decision so that your partner can raise any concerns or alternatives to the idea. The following are some healthy and effective ways that you can approach the discussion:

  • Do not discuss the issue during an argument.
  • Choose a time when neither of you is busy and can fully focus on the concern at hand.
  • Understand that your partner may be hesitant or reluctant to accept this change of arrangement.
  • Do not dismiss their concerns.
  • Be open to a discussion of other alternatives.
  • Consider the possibility of temporary or intermittent separation of sleeping arrangements.
  • Set concrete goals for addressing underlying issues, e.g. scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

Furthermore, as with any discussion with your partner, it is important to approach the matter with empathy and a desire to problem-solve at the forefront of your mind.

Separate Sleeping Arrangement Options

There are many different configurations for separate sleeping arrangements, and which one will be best for you will depend on a variety of factors related to your unique circumstances. Options for separate sleeping arrangements include:

  • Separate bedrooms: This may be best for scenarios where a partner is highly disruptive or needs to be able to manage their larger environment.
  • Separate sleeping spaces in the same room: This may be helpful when a partner just needs some extra space or needs to mildly personalize their sleeping space.
  • Adjustable beds: This is beneficial when partners have different preferences for the type and configuration of their bedding.
  • Flexible solutions decided on a nightly basis: For intermittent concerns, couples may adjust their sleeping arrangements on a nightly basis to suit their needs, e.g. spending some nights on a couch or futon.

To determine which of these might be best for you, you should consider what your concerns are and the benefits and drawbacks of these options as far as addressing them.

Maintaining a Connection

A common, major concern for people in a relationship considering separate sleeping arrangements is the ability to maintain a connection despite the separation. There are many ways you can overcome this issue, such as:

  • Intentionally carving out time together outside of sleeping hours
  • Establishing bedtime routines for shared relaxation
  • Communicating about your needs
  • Spending restful downtime together such as movie nights

In general, creating and adjusting sleep arrangements that are ideal for everyone in a relationship is something that will need to be approached strategically and empathetically. Additionally, it will be important to regularly check in about changing needs to address any further necessary adjustments that may arise as a result of changing needs and preferences.


Posted by: The GERDHelp Team


NP02696-03 A