Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Familiarity breeds contempt. Sharing a bed even more so.
How many times have you had a disrupted sleep because of someone else's presence in the bed, or even the room? Too many to count, I'll wager. Having someone around can significantly disturb our sleep, our health, our sanity, all because we are so programmed to believe that sharing a bed is what we're supposed to do with our lover.
Last week my boyfriend and I were in Manchester for a competition (which I'll bore you with another time) and we stayed in a hotel. The first night was dire - both of us hot, flustered and fidgety, which made sleeping nigh impossible. The next night we were moved to a different room - where we had the indulgence of two beds, and without quibble or qualm we each took one and slept solidly.
This got me wondering: why do we even share beds in the first place? A quick google revealed no meaningful information (although THIS article from the Guardian newspaper mentions a bygone era when separate beds were all the rage) so I've hazarded a guess: for coitus, procreation and irritation.
But even for the purposes of coitus, bedsharing doesn’t add up: most couples bonk about 54 times per year (according to one study. I conducted my own unscientific one in my Instagram stories that wasn't much more encouraging) not enough to justify having to suffer a snoring bedfellow the other 311 nights of the year (and that’s assuming that the sex takes place at night, and in a bed).
Most of us sleep our entire childhoods alone in the serenity of our own rooms, and most certainly in our own beds. Then we grow up, pair off and POOF! Unquestioningly we adhere to a mysterious tradition to share a home, a bedroom AND a bed. Ludicrous!
Sharing a bed is inconducive to a good night's sleep.
We go from sublimely spread-eagling to having to tolerate another person (granted it’s usually someone we’re fond of - for a while) occupying space, snoring, wriggling, hogging the covers, clumsily poking at us when horny, farting, and other acts of somna-violence. And if one partner is unwell? Don't get me started. Then there's the not insignificant matter of different sleep schedules and preferred sleep temperatures. So many potential pitfalls yet we happily take it on the chin because that’s just what couples do.
One of my ex-boyfriends used to lie so close to me, nudging me to the edge of the king size bed that I’d get up and walk around to lie on the other side of the bed, only for him then to roll over to my new side, expel me again and the farce would continue. All in the name of intimacy.
Another former lover used to sleep walk. One night I was woken by a kerfuffle in the wardrobe. I thought we were being robbed. When I came to, I realised it was him, weeing. IN the wardrobe. We even had a whole conversation while it was going on, him chuckling away, having the time of his life. The next morning he had zero recollection of the event; he insisted that I was making it up. The evidence spoke for itself.
I could keep regaling you with anecdotes of how my lovers have ruined what would otherwise been perfectly wonderful sleeps but we don't have all night.
Besides, I’m not such an angel. My older sister once had the misfortune of sharing a bed with me on holiday. As I was nodding off, I got the twitches and sharply kneed her in the back. She rightly made sure we had separate beds after that and insisted on warning future boyfriends of the perils of sleeping with me. Somehow none of them heeded that vital caution and chose to learn the hard way.
If a couple decides not to share a room for whatever reason, it’s often deemed a sign of a troubled relationship. But it need not be. If one (or both parties) snores/farts/physically acts out their dreams and it disturbs the other, it would be a rebellious act of love to allow them to slumber separately. Yet even if one party is contagiously sick, most couples keep sharing the bed and the microbes, which is just absurd - until Covid knocked some sense into people. In my relationship we have an agreement that if one of us is sick, we spare the other and remain separate. It's just common sense.
Of course we can’t overlook the practical consideration of couples raising children. Separate homes might not be the most desired arrangement for together parents, but for divorced parents it’s clearly less bothersome than sleeping with the enemy. For together parents, how about this as an alternative to sharing a bed: put dad in with child; mum gets her own space. Everyone wins.
There are major benefits of separate rooms:
-Delicious, undisturbed sleep (need I continue?)
-Be pissed off in peace after a fight.
-Snuggle time remains a novelty - like ‘darling, wanna come to my bed😏?’ Hubba. Then have the option to pop to your own room or choose to stay for post-coital cuddles before drifting off, blissfully loved-up.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Keep the fire alive!
This is not to negate the positive aspects of sharing a bed:
- man protects woman from potential intruders. She feels safe, he feels needed and powerful - it’s what he lives for.
-staying warm on chilly nights - save on heating bills (especially in the impending winter of discontent).
- apparently it’s good for the oxytocin - something about connection or what not.
- the convenience of falling asleep immediately after sex.
There's no need to blindly accept sharing a bed/bedroom/home with a lover. Kings and queens of yesteryear had separate chambers (or wings, or even castles), and the right idea. Granted cash wasn't an issue.
Celeb couple Tim Burton (director of films such as Beetlejuice) and ex-wife Helena Bonham-Carter took it one stage further and lived in adjacent houses. Now that’s what I call relationship goals.
Whatever you choose, do it because you actively want to, not because you think you’re supposed to. And on that note, I bid you good night. #prochoice