On our first date, my wife asked me point blank, “Do you snore?”
Without pause, I answered, “Absolutely not — and I hate sports, love brunch, and only watch Bravo.”
Okay, I exaggerate, but I did lie to her about not snoring and that was the best decision I ever made. We are married now and have a beautiful 3-month-old son named Benjamin. Had I told her the truth that I snore like a beast, kick, twitch, scream, and even laugh in my sleep, I’d probably be single, sitting under a scuzzy stairwell in the East Village walkup.
Today, my wife and I have a wonderful marriage, and one of the secrets to our success is separate bedrooms. Not separate beds, separate bedrooms. When our friends learn this, they say, “Wow, you guys are weird.” Maybe, but we’re also well-rested.
They say, “But there’s nothing better than a warm body next to you in bed.” Yes, there is, and it’s called a cool mattress.
When my wife and I were first dating, I always found it peculiar that such a petite woman slept on a king-size bed. At 5-foot-4, she sleeps diagonally and “starfishes” by flailing her arms out to the side, which makes another person lying next to her near impossible. In fact, it’s not uncommon that she’ll wake up completely horizontal across her mattress.
A light sleeper who has suffered from insomnia most of her life married a man who is an absolute nightmare unconscious. Early on, we’d attempt unsuccessfully to spend the night together, and we’d both be miserable zombies the next day.
When we decided to move in together, we made sure that we each had our own bedroom, and when we got married, we even considered putting in our wedding vows “I promise to love you for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, in separate bedrooms until death do us part.”
Let’s face it: Having somebody else in bed with you can’t help you sleep better — they can only wake you up. Back in the 1950s, it was not unusual for Grandma and Grandpa to have separate beds. They understood the importance of sleep and the annoyance of being woken up. We took it one step further and put ourselves in completely different rooms on opposite ends of the apartment. We did this because we love each other.
Now that we have a baby and live in a two-bedroom apartment, I am about to be displaced by my son who will need my room. For now, he sleeps in the living room, but soon we will trade spaces and a divider will be put up to provide me with a semblance of privacy in my new 8-by-10 space. My queen-size mattress will be replaced by a full, and for the first time in my life, my bedroom will be void of a TV and a dresser.
Before my wife decided on the divider for the living room, there were other ideas for where I would sleep: outside on our tiny patio, in the bathtub, or in the crevice behind the couch. Luckily, my wife loves me and chose the divider.
According to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation study, nearly 1 in 4 couples sleep separately, whether that be in separate beds or rooms. People are starting to realize that our grandparents who stayed married for half a century knew what they doing. They sat down for dinner each night with the family, watched The Ed Sullivan Show, and then said good-night, and went into their respective bedroom.
If you’re in a relationship and prefer your own bed or bedroom, you may insult your partner with the suggestion of sleeping separately. But don’t worry, they’ll get over it, and they may even agree to it. Here’s hoping.
Finally, one day our son will ask, “Mommy, why do you and Daddy sleep in different rooms?” And my wife will answer, “Because Daddy snores, honey. That’s why.” Our son will use that lesson for the rest of his life.