What Does Sleep Divorce Or Sleep Separation Mean?

Sleep divorce, or sleep separation, refers to the decision made by couples to sleep separately long or short-term, to get a restful night’s sleep.
Woman Sleeping Alone On One Side Of A Bed Face Down
Q: What Does Sleep Divorce Or Sleep Separation Mean?
A: Sleep divorce, also known as sleep separation, refers to the decision made by couples to sleep separately.

Couples who have gotten a sleep divorce live their lives together as normal during waking hours but go to their separate beds, and often, separate rooms at bedtime for a more restful slumber. 

The societal standard that a devoted couple should be “as one” makes sleep divorce a controversial topic but according to the Ryerson University’s Sleep and Depression Laboratory, 30-40% of couples sleep separately, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, 23% of Americans sleep separately for various reasons.

According to this light-hearted survey of 3,000 Americans, 30% of people who currently sleep with their partner want to get a sleep divorce!

And a more recent survey conducted by FiveThirtyEight with 1,058 respondents, showed some additional interesting data:

Infographic Showing Reasons Why Couples Sleep In Separate Beds

(Source: FiveThirtyEight)

In this survey, almost 50% of couples have experienced a sleep divorce at least once per year, with 13.6% saying they adhere to this ritual every night.


There are many possible reasons people cite for the occasional or long-term sleep divorce, not the least of which is sleep deprivation.

The top reasons for sleep divorce include: 

  • Movements and sounds, like snoring
  • Differences in room temperature preference
  • Differences in sleep times
  • Not enough space in the bed
  • Sickness
  • No longer wanting to be physically intimate
  • And other reasons like children, sleep preferences, and bathroom schedules

All of these can lead to sleep deprivation, and thus cause some couples to seek a temporary or permanent sleep divorce.

Sleep deprivation is no joke, folks.

Aside from health issues like obesity and lack of mental focus, people who do not sleep well also report fighting more with their partners!

Perhaps the willingness to consider a sleep divorce — even a short-term one — could even decrease the chances of a real divorce!

But…won’t a sleep divorce also cause a sex divorce? 

Sleeping separately does not have to negatively impact sex with your partner.

Here is a great article that explains how sleep and sex are connected!

What matters even more than where you sleep, is that you have a healthy, genuinely happy, and loving relationship when you are awake!