Study Says One-Third of Americans Choose ‘Sleep Divorce’

2 min read

July 13, 2023 -- Would you permanently leave your partner because of stolen covers? Probably not.

But more than a third of Americans choose to sleep away from their partners in a “sleep divorce” to avoid common nighttime disruptions like snoring, insomnia, and differing alarm times, according to new research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"Although the term 'sleep divorce' seems harsh, it really just means that people are prioritizing sleep and moving into a separate room at night when needed," said Seema Khosla, MD, a pulmonologist and spokesperson for the AASM, in a news release. 

Poor sleep can put you in a bad mood, and people who are don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to argue with their partner according to Khosla. “There may be some resentment toward the person causing the sleep disruption which can negatively impact relationships," she said.

“Getting a good night’s sleep is important for both health and happiness, so it's no surprise that some couples choose to sleep apart for their overall well-being," Khosla said. 

The organization surveyed 2,005 adults. By generation, more millennials practice the occasional sleep divorce than other age groups -- at 43%. Meanwhile, 33% in Generation X said they do it; 28% of people in Generation Z; and 22% of Baby Boomers.

Among men, 45% said they occasionally or consistently sleep in another room, compared to 25% of women.

"There are benefits for some partners to sleep separately," Erin Flynn-Evans, a consultant to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told CBS News. "Studies demonstrate that when one bed partner has a sleep disorder it can negatively affect the other sleeper. For example, bed partners tend to wake up at the same time when one has insomnia.

“Similarly, when bed partners differ in chronotype, like when one is a night owl the other is an early bird, these differing sleep preferences can negatively impact both partners' sleep," Flynn-Evans said.

But, she said, sleeping with a partner can help people learn they’re suffering from a sleep disorder or some other condition.

Partners who sleep separately because of loud or frequent snoring should encourage their partner to speak to their doctor. The AASM notes, “Loud and frequent snoring is not just a nuisance; it is a common symptom of sleep apnea.”