My partner and I stopped sharing a bed after having kids: why I love sleeping alone

Guest post by Lauren

Offbeat Home recently ran a post about sleeping separately due to insomnia — this is a different perspective on couples having separate rooms.

Bed 06
By: Massimo PeruffoCC BY 2.0
It started six years ago when I was pregnant with my first baby. In early pregnancy, I suffered from severe nausea and morning sickness, which was made worse by anything that smelled like, you know, anything. And unfortunately, my husband Brian started to smell like something: his body exuded a pungent funk so repellent that I had to hold my breath when I kissed him for many months. Sleeping in the same room became akin to torture, so I took to the guest bed, dousing the pillow with lavender essential oils for months until the nausea faded.

Our daughter Robin joined us in bed after her birth and for awhile we were a happily co-sleeping trio. I believe in co-sleeping to my core: it just makes intrinsic sense to me that babies would want to snuggle their mamas. And before pregnancy, co-sleeping was a huge part of the intimacy we shared as husband and wife: we spent at least an hour “cozing” in the morning before we got up. Brian and I have always been a very snuggly couple. Why wouldn’t we all want to sleep together? Forever and ever?

As a kid, I often required company to relax at night, which was a time of high anxiety for me. I remember being eight and sneaking into my sister’s room during thunderstorms or after a bad dream. Company helped me relax, even if it was the company of my younger sis. As a teen, I sometimes slept on the sofa in my parents’ room for the same reason. I get why humans want to share beds. I wouldn’t deny that to anyone in my family — as long as we’re all sleeping well.

When our second daughter Holly was born, the king-sized bed that had once felt fairly roomy became impossibly cramped. By then, Robin was a toddler who demanded half the bed to herself and had the sharpest little feet imaginable. She also still nursed at night, and rolling back and forth between two kids all night sounded like a form of torture to me. Holly and I retreated to the guest bedroom again, and I started to fall in love with this quiet retreat. Holly was a much nicer bed friend than Robin had been (Robin simply likes her own space, we came to learn, and took to sleeping in her own bed pretty well once we moved and set up a bedroom for her). Snuggling up with my warm, sweet newborn in a dark, quiet room was a small antidote to the mounting stress in my life at that time.

At that time, I felt pulled in all directions trying to meet the competing needs of my baby, toddler, husband, students, and graduate career. Focusing solely on the needs of my infant, which were pure and completely understandable (unlike the mercurial and confusing needs of, say, a two-year-old!), was sweet relief. Brian and Robin shared the king-sized bed, and with more wiggle room (and her Dada), they rested better, too. (Or at least, no worse.) And we just stayed that way.

We bought our beautiful country home when the girls were three and one, and about six months after we moved we finally had the money and wherewithal to set up a bedroom just for them. As with any transition, it was a rocky start, but pretty soon they were sleeping in their own beds for most of the night, every night. Each night we have “tub time for tooter tots,” read stories, brush hair and teeth, and go potty. Brian reads in the big chair and I snuggle Holly until the girls fall asleep.

Our house is two-story, and the master bedroom is on the first floor. The girls’ room is upstairs, and so is the guest bedroom — which the girls call “Mommy’s room.” And which I should call “my room.” Because I sleep in there, alone.

Technically, we could set up a baby monitor in their room, and I could go to bed with Brian, and head upstairs if and only if needed. And now that Holly sleeps through the night at least some nights, that would be the logical thing to do, right? I mean, why wouldn’t I leap back into bed with my estranged husband? Right?

Except. OK.

I love my bed.

I love getting into my big bed with the extra soft blanket and lying in the exact position I want. I love that I can stick my legs out. I love how quiet it is in my bed. I love that I can read with a flashlight. I love that I can look out my window for a while, at the stars over our tiny town, the dogs in my neighbors’ backyards. No one’s needs to meet but my own. That tranquility at the end of the day… I don’t want to give it up.

Brian asked if I thought we’d ever share a bed again. First, I said he had to stop snoring. Then I said, probably, someday. I think raising young kids has changed my own needs. As they move out of the young age of constant neediness — as they sleep more independently, as Holly gets ready to fully wean from nursing — I’m more aware of my own needs, of my own self as mattering in my family. And right now, I need solo time at the end of the day. I need to sleep alone. I want to sleep alone.

Behind every conversation about sleeping arrangements is a question about sex. People might ask, “OMGWFTBBQ AREN’T YOU RUINING YOUR MARRIAGE??!!!!” And the answer is… I don’t know, maybe? A lot of couples sleep apart, and studies are conflicting as to how much more (or less) sex you have if you sleep apart. Right now, in our life, good sleep takes precedent over everything, including sex, although we do OK.

Let me put it this way: we have about as much sex now as we ever did when we shared a bed. And we have more sex now than we did for quite a while when we shared a bed. I think sex has more to do with the dynamics in our relationship at any given moment than where we happen to place our bodies at night, to sleep. If things are good, if we’re well rested, if we want to? We find a way to make it happen. If we’re stressed, tired, angry, distracted? We won’t. Even if we spend 10 hours less than a foot away from each other. Honestly, bed-sharing with my snoring, hard-to-wake husband might inspire more resentment between us, more sleep-deprived fantasies of pillow smothering. I don’t think sharing a bed would save a failing marriage, nor do I think separate beds would destroy a good one. But what do I know? I’ve only been married for 9 years.

I don’t think it will be like this forever. If having kids has taught me anything, it’s that the way things are today is not how they will be forever. I love my husband and I’m sure that with some Breathe Right strips and two increasingly independent daughters, snuggling at night will reemerge as a way we stay connected. But for now? This queen-sized bed is mine all mine.

Comments on My partner and I stopped sharing a bed after having kids: why I love sleeping alone

  1. I love to hear this! My husband and I don’t have kids right now, but we still love having our own space. It gives us time to relax and unwind, and if we want to cuddle or have a sleep over, nothing is stopping us.

  2. I feel like when baby number two comes, this will probably be happening too. I just love to snuggle, but I know the lack of sleep thing really can drive any of us up a wall.

    Great insight and thank you for sharing!

  3. We solved the separate beds/not enough bedspace problem by putting two large mattresses side by side on the floor. No rolling off, always more room somewhere, easy to protect the little one from the toddler’s kicky feet. We also had a separate queensize foldout in the guest room. Good place for sex. In my marriage, sex happens when awake (the majority of the time). Sleep happens when asleep. They don’t always occur in the same place. 😀

  4. I love sleeping alone, too! Amen to all your reasons. My 1 year-old is a much easier sleep-buddy than my snoring husband. It’s dreamy and I can’t bring myself to stop it. The baby was about 3 days old when we started…I just sat up in the middle of the night and said “I can’t do this.” Nurse round the clock, care for the baby, all that adjusting…and not sleep because of my partner? Too much. He sleeps better sans baby,so he’s not complaining (yet!)

  5. As I read this post I was struck by how many people said things like “i would love too have my own bed” or “I would kill for my own room” or “that would be so awesome”…it was sad to me to see that people felt like they were not in control of their own sleeping arrangements. Just like consensual sex, consensual sleeping and eating is important too!!! Remember that it is your body, and your sleep, and your choice. Even if someone else is disappointed, or lonely, or sad, or insecure, or mad. I think somehow in this culture we have the idea that marriage = shared beds and anything else is weird. We all have the right to sleep alone if we want and are not responsible for our partners feelings about it (but are obligated to communicate clearly about our needs/wants and be considerate of theirs). No matter how much we love/care about them, our partner does not have the right to dictate our sleeping arrangements, or your eating habits, or intimacy, etc.

  6. Whatever works for you is what you should do!! I’ve never really co-slept much except when my daughter was about a year old and I was pregnant with my son. My then husband had walked out and she needed me desperately. Truthfully, I needed her cuddles too. After marrying again a few years later and settling into a family life together, I enjoy my snuggle time with my husband too much to ever give it up. Even though he snores like a bear I sleep better next to him…and now that he works nights and I have the bed all to myself 5 nights a week I hate it. Its been almost 8 years on the night shift for him…I still cringe when he leaves because I have to sleep all by my lonesome. Guess I am just a different breed…his heartbeat helps me sleep.

  7. My partner and I have had separate bedrooms since the day we moved in together. The reactions we get to this range from closed-minded (people asking us if that means we’re just roommates) to incomprehension, to disagreement, to understanding, to envy! We had communicated about it pretty early on in our relationship, and this was non-negotiable for both of us. We have sleepovers (usually on weekends) and have a lovely, affectionate, quality-time-filled life together. We also have separate spaces that reflect our unique decorating styles, that we each have full say over, and that has a door that can be closed when we need “quiet time.” Our sex life is also great, and we both believe it is enhanced, rather than hindered, by our separate room set up. We feel like we’re living the dream!

  8. Married 50 years and haven’t slept or had sex with the wife. It probably sounds cruel but you know I just don’t care. I had sex once and I hated it I threw up all over and never wanted to experience it again. Over our lives she may have had lovers and thats just fine with me, I really don’t care. I’m not even positive she still lives in the house. Oh well I have my spot small cabin with a large garage.

  9. My boyfriend and I live separately and spend 2-3 nights away from each other each week. We’re gearing up to buy a two-story house with a basement for his bed and the 2nd floor for mine. That way we can still have nights apart every week.

    When I was with my ex husband, he slept apart from me for a while when he was going through depression. I felt so sure that this was bad for our relationship that I never even thought about what I wanted. Turns out that sleeping together wasn’t the solution to the lack of connection we had.

    When you’re in a relationship, you’re still two different people with two different sets of needs that should be respected and not taken personally at all times.

  10. Wow – thanks, so glad I found this article. Since our 16mo was born he has slept in ‘my’ room and my husband has slept with the toddler whom we bought a double mattress and have on the floor in his room. After trying unsuccessfully again tonight for our boys to share a room, and us to share a bed again, I was feeling guilty and like no one our age does this! Looks like I’m very wrong! Lack of sleep is a major trigger for poor mental health for me, and with this arrangement everyone in the house gets more sleep and is happier. Yes my husband feels rejected sometimes, though admits he loves snuggling with the toddler, that it’s just a stage, and doesn’t at all miss my constant kicks in the night and snarky remarks to ‘roll on your side and shut up!’. You very eloquently summed up why I love it (apart from more sleep), in that it is my ONLY alone time, and I cherish it and so look forward to it. Toddler and hubby are both snoring sweaty wriggly ‘sleep like the dead’ sleepers and love sharing (high sensory thresholds perhaps?) – baby and I are ‘enjoy company from across the room but don’t get in my grill’ sleepers (low sensory thresholds?) so our arrangement for now will stay. Plus my room is way quieter so no point moving baby until he’s a ‘sleep like the dead’ 2yo!

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