What is sleep divorce and why is it such a good idea for your relationship?

We spoke to a sleep expert to find out everything you need to know about this sleep trend

couple in bed, man snoring
(Image credit: Getty)

A disturbed night's sleep can put anyone in a bad mood for the day. And if it's a partner's snoring or wriggling that's keeping you up, even if they're a total dreamboat during waking hours, it can be enough to put a strain on the relationship. The answer, according to sleep expert and Beingwell founder James wilson (aka the Sleep Geek) could well be sleep divorce. 

Don't panic, that's sleep divorce. "It's when a couple make the decision to sleep separately to help improve their sleep," explains James. "Sleep divorce isn't really the best way to describe it. I see it more like a sleep holiday, people spend that time they are asleep separate, to be better versions of themselves during the day." So essentially trying a little sleep divorce could help you avoid actual divorce. We spoke to James to find out more.

A quick note before we start – if you want to keep an eye on your sleep health, you might want to invest in one of the best sleep trackers. And if sleep divorce isn't an option for you, check out our best mattress guide – upgrading your bed components can have a big impact on your slumber. 

Who should think about sleep divorce?

James Wilson: If you are a light sleeper, or your partner is particularly active during the night – maybe they are restless sleepers, sleep talkers or chronic snorers – then sleeping separately means that you are less likely to be pulled out of your sleep cycle, and for you to have less disturbed sleep," says James. "If it works for you, it is likely to improve the amount of sleep you get, and also the quality of sleep."

What are the benefits of sleep divorce? 

JW: Sleep is the foundation that the rest of our health is built upon, improving your sleep improves emotional and mental wellbeing, makes it easier to eat healthily and leads us to becoming more focused and motivated. For your relationship this means you are less likely to fall out, and people I work with have said that sleeping separately has made them realise their partners were as annoying as they thought they were! Generally, from my experience it improves both the emotional and the physical parts of a relationship.

Any tips for making this approach work for you?

JW: It only works if both people are on board with the idea. This means we need to start with a compassionate conversation. Then it is ensuring that both bedrooms are invested in. I wouldn't just go and sleep in the spare room, as the mattress, pillows and duvet are rarely as good as the one we have in our main bedroom. I would say each partner takes the room they sleep in and makes it right for them, in terms of the products and the decor. I find if people spray their partner’s aftershave or perfume on a t-shirt or their pillow it gives them an emotional connection to their partner, without being disturbed by them throughout the night!

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).