Ozzie and Harriet beds: The aftermath of sleeping separately

May 30 | Guest post by venus

This is in response to the insomniac post. I saw a few comments like, "Separate beds will help. Separate rooms would probably help even more." Having experience with this, I wanted to lend my two cents.

By: Maegan TintariCC BY 2.0
My partner and I sleep in separate beds, and I am not sure how I feel about about it.

We were sleeping on a queen mattress my partner had bought several years ago, which was fine for him, but lacking for me. I desperately wanted a memory foam mattress, and he mostly wanted to keep his current mattress, but neither of us was sleeping very well there, for a few reasons.

  1. He's six feet tall and generally is longer than whatever bed he's sleeping on, so he sleeps diagonally. I have trouble sleeping, and had a hard time falling asleep when I had to curve my body around him.
  2. We had blanket/temperature disagreements: I believe that a bed should be very warm and double as a fort, and he's pretty minimalist about covers, and would be annoyed when my extra blankets inevitably encroached on his space, a precious commodity in that bed.
  3. We have a cat who takes up a shocking amount of room, and always found ways to leave one or both of us uncomfortable on the edges of the bed.

Two beds was originally his idea, but once he said it out loud, I immediately began championing it. I prize sleep above all else, and if I'm not sleeping well, everything else suffers. This seemed like the perfect solution to all of our issues. After five months, I can say that it has definitely been a mixed bag, with a few unintended consequences.

We do sleep better

This was the goal, and it has been achieved. I LOVE my bed. It is my special happy place, and I hate when I have to sleep in other places. My partner feels the same way, and both of us have felt that we got what we wanted in terms of improving our sleep.

It has created distance and space between us

Literally. My bed is on a box spring and metal frame, and his is in the low-to-the-ground wooden IKEA frame he's always used. We put a nightstand in between so that we'd both have access to the alarm clock, but it mostly serves to create a literal chasm, with me up high and him down low, and neither of us able to see the other when lying in bed.

Back when we slept in one bed we would hang out before going to sleep — cuddling, catching up, being silly — it was one of my favorite parts of our relationship. Now, that nightly ritual has been somewhat disrupted. We tend to solve it by hanging out in one bed or the other, but it sucks when we get comfortable and start to fall asleep in my bed and then he has to get up and go to his bed. I'm not sure yet how much emotional distance this is causing between us, but it is definitely changing things. I start to feel some regret, because the bed I bought is a full, and there's no WAY that we could both sleep there long term — it's too short for him to be comfortable. But since I invested in the bed, we're kind of stuck with it.

One way to deal with this that we've discussed is to get rid of the night stand and get him a frame so that we can push the beds together into one giant SuperBed.

I forget that it isn't typical

I am always super confused when people talk about being careful getting into bed so as not to disrupt their partner, or other co-sleeping banalities. My frame of reference has completely shifted, and two beds seems like the obvious default to me now. While this isn't something I generally discuss publicly, one time I accidently let the cat out of the bag when talking to a coworker because I mentioned washing my partners' sheets separate from my own. I forgot that what I was describing was atypical! That changed the conversation pretty quickly, to one I didn't mean to be having!

It can be AWKWARD when someone notices

I don't know how to talk about this with people, so I generally don't, and try to keep the bedroom door shut. Except we have roof access from our bedroom door, and we want to bring guests out onto the roof. Most often, no one says anything. It is incredibly awkward when someone sees the two beds, and I see them seeing them, but no one addresses it… Most people don't want to be impolite, but I can never find the words to bring it up, so I don't.

I am always blissfully relieved when someone blurts out "Wow! Separate beds!" because then we have an avenue to discuss it. It does produce extra anxiety for me when we have new people over and I know they might see the two beds and have questions, but not know how to ask them. I don't mind the curiosity, but with new friends or casual acquaintances, I never know how to broach the subject, and it becomes a white elephant. (My partner doesn't find it nearly as awkward as I do.)

So, would I recommend it?

I don't know. Sleep has improved, but it has definitely had an impact on our relationship. Neither of us can accurately gauge just how big that impact is, but we both feel it. We're taking steps to minimize it, and to make sure that the physical space between us doesn't create an emotional one.

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