Separate rooms, better lives: Should you consider a 'sleep divorce'?

Couple sleeping separate
Sleeping separately is no longer a sign you're in a fight with your partner - it may make things better than ever. Photo credit: Getty Images.

If you've ever slept next to someone prone to snoring, sleep talking or thrashing around like they're dreaming they're in a washing machine, you'll know well the pain of waking up irritable, sleep-deprived and often pretty angry.  

That's why many couples are now undertaking a 'sleep divorce': Moving to separate bedrooms for at least a few nights each week to improve their sleep quality and relationship overall. 

While many people may have a view of couples who sleep separately as being disconnected or in a fight, experts say it can in fact improve a relationship. 

As sleep is one of the most important basic functions, and improving your quality of sleep can only improve your quality of life - including relationships. 

"Sleeping well is essential to everything we do in the daytime," UK psychologist Professor Margareta James told The Sun. 

"After a good sleep we are more energised, can concentrate better and have an improved quality of life, which also includes our relationships. We tend to be more patient, engaged and attentive when we're not tired or irritable."

After hit Netflix show The Crown revealed Queen Elizabeth slept in a separate bedroom to the late Prince Philip during much of their 73-year marriage, it became a point of discussion for many viewers. 

Recent research suggests the royal couple were ahead of their time, as these days, almost half of couples choose to sleep apart for an average of four nights a week.

So should you split up (for the night)?

Yes, say many experts. Jennifer Adams, author of Sleeping Apart Not Falling Apart, has slept in a separate room to her husband during most of their 15 years together.

"As a couple, if you enjoy sleeping together and can do so without one party disrupting the other's sleep, then that is a great outcome. However, it doesn't mean that your relationship is better than a couple who sleeps separately," Adams told Good Housekeeping. 

"Hundreds of thousands of couples are heading to separate rooms each night and enjoying a full life, and great relationships, because they get a good night's sleep each night."

If you're worried about losing intimacy, US doctor and sleep expert Dr Emily Jamea, told SELF it's important to establish an evening routine together to rein connected.

"If I have couples who don't typically sleep in the same bed, I encourage them to spend some time snuggling in one of the beds, so they have that intimate moment before splitting off," she said.

"Even if you're not a snuggler, creating a nighttime ritual - like watching TV in a bed an hour before you go to sleep - that makes sleeping separately a little less foreign could be helpful."