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What is a ‘sleep divorce’ and does it predict actual divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Divorce |

A sleep divorce is when a married couple decides they must sleep in separate beds or bedrooms. It’s one solution to the many common problems couples face that keep them from sleeping well together.

Is sleeping together absolutely necessary for a happy marriage? No, according to psychologists. There is some evidence that sleeping together is beneficial to marriages, but there can be other ways to bond.

Either way, what you’re going for is communication and compromise.

If one or both of you believe that sleeping together is best, there are solutions to many of the practical problems that interrupt it, according to Consumer Reports. The nonprofit product rater suggests, for example, that couples can get at least some relief from these common issues:

  • A partner who takes up too much space
  • A partner who moves around too much
  • A partner who prefers a different room temperature
  • A partner who likes a different mattress firmness
  • A partner who steals the covers
  • A partner who snores

On the other hand, you may have already tried everything you can think of to make it work – but you’re so tired. And that lack of sleep may be so detrimental that it cancels out all of the good feelings that sleeping together is supposed to generate.

So, if you’re considering a sleep divorce, don’t fear that you will inevitably destroy your bond with your spouse. Again, communication and deliberation will do a lot. Find out what your spouse values about sleeping together and see if you can do something to meet that need in another way. Then, do the same for yourself.

If you can meet those needs in new ways, sleeping apart can be a pro-relationship decision. The improved sleep may even make it easier to compromise in other areas.

Here are a couple of ways to build connection whether or not you sleep in the same bed, from Wendy Troxel, PhD, author of the 2021 book, “Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep”:

Schedule some time together before bed. If you’re not already talking over your day together, try sharing a high and a low from each spouse’s day. Then, give the other person a compliment or express your gratitude for something they do for you. These little rituals can really build a sense of connection.

Sleep in your separate beds or bedrooms, but touch base every morning, if you can. It’s good to give each other just a moment’s acknowledgement, if that’s all you have time for. Just a reminder you’re in this together.

Finally, it’s important to realize that in North Carolina, a divorce cannot be considered until both individuals have been physically separated and have lived apart for at least one year. If you are considering a sleep divorce due to irreconcilable differences that cannot be mended, consider consulting with our firm to learn more about the law and your options.


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