I have a confession to make. Hubs and I don’t sleep in the same bed. Yes, we share the same bedroom. Just not the same bed. Yes, we’re still crazy about each other.
As Baby Boomers get older, we begin to realize the importance of a good night’s sleep. Culturally, we are expected to sleep together as a symbol of our love and desire for intimacy with our spouse. Horse hooey.
Studies tell us that one in four married couples sleep apart. That number is believed to be conservative because many couples don’t want to admit that they “aren’t normal.” But home design began to change in the early 1990s, with a significant jump in requests for two master bedrooms. It seems that “normal” is evolving into “whatever works for the two of you.”
Reasons for sleeping separately vary, but it all boils down to how you can both get a good night’s sleep. Why two beds works for us:
- We both want to sleep next to the window. Very few couples swap out which side of the bed they sleep on. Whichever side they begin with is “dibbed,” and usually becomes “your side” or “my side” forever. Once you give up the window seat, it’s gone for good. Hubs likes his head right underneath the open window. On nights I wanted fresh air, I’d have to crawl on top of him to get my face closer to the window. It took several years before he realized I wasn’t putting the midnight moves on him. He’s still hopeful.
- He’s a cuddler. I’m not. TV shows and movies love to show couples all snuggled up under fat down comforters, in full-body spooning positions that would overheat an ice fisherman in less than three minutes. Unless you’re doing it to prevent frostbite because you’re lost in the woods, it’s snowing, and you’re waiting for a rescue team, this position doesn’t work in real life. Hubs says he knows it’s time to sleep when he hears, “Get off me.” And they say romance is dead.
- I have restless leg syndrome. And I toss and turn. Sometimes all night long. Hubs regularly gets smacked in the head or gets an elbow in the eye, or more likely gets kicked in his pride and joy. He says he’s considered coming to bed in safety goggles and a helmet, and a protective cup on his junk because most of my kicks are unintentionally directed at his groin. Who needs pajamas?
- I like a warm room. He prefers to sleep in an igloo, where you can see your breath when you talk. Hubs will open the window and turn on a fan next to his side of the bed. In December. We’ve had snow in our bed on more than one winter morning. Oh hell, no.
- He likes the dogs sleeping in the big bed. I wouldn’t mind if they could be trained to sleep vertically, instead of horizontally. The same goes for the grandkids. Two Chihuahuas can push an adult human onto the floor, and little tykes like to sleep sideways on your head until you give up and relocate. By the third time I get shoved out of the bed, I’m up and hauling two tiny humans, each holding a Chihuahua, down the hall to the guest room.
- He snores. Loudly. All night long. I’m an extremely light sleeper. I’ll wake up at the first snort, and can’t go back to sleep until I’m bleary-eyed from exhaustion and my body just gives up. Hubs can take out three states when he gets going. There aren’t ear plugs or drugs available legally, anywhere, that will let me sleep through that decibel level. He wakes up in the morning with a big grin and a stretch, exclaiming “I had the best night’s sleep. How ’bout you?” Not a jury in the world would convict me…
- His favorite sleeping position is a wide X, with arms up overhead and legs spread wide. He looks like he’s making a 200-pound snow angel. This leaves me trying to curl into the tiny pie-shaped area under his right armpit and above his right knee, which is roughly enough space for an anorexic gerbil.
Studies tell us that the most common question couples get when they admit they sleep in separate beds is “What about your sex life?” Well, if your entire repertoire of foreplay consists of “We’re both in bed, we’re both naked, it’s dark outside, so what the hell, why not?” this might put a crimp in things. Yes, now it takes a little bit of effort. But the foreplay begins when one of you gets up and changes beds. It’s the “Your place or mine?” question, reminiscent of your dating years. And on those nights one of you isn’t feeling it, send a kiss across the bough and you’re free to sleep however you want. Your partner is three feet away, so if you wake up at 2 a.m. wanting to make a “Hey, Sailor” booty call, you don’t even need your phone. Just get up and tell him to scoot over. He’ll make room.
But every now and then, the family decides you’re due for a group cuddle.
Before Hubs and I figured out that two beds in the same room was a brilliant idea, I often slept down the hall in the guest room. One weekend, we had our two grandchildren for a sleepover. At bedtime, Hubs went to the master bedroom, I went to the guest room, and the two little ones curled up in their sleeping bags on the couch.
Sometime during the night, my grandson came into my room and whispered in my ear, “Grandma, can I sleep with you?” “Of course, sweetie. Hop in.” So he did.
Just as I was drifting off, my granddaughter peeked around the corner. “Grandma, I’m scared. Can I sleep with you?” “Um…Sure. Come on up.” So she did.
By now, my little bed was getting crowded and hot. When the children fell asleep, I tip-toed down the hall and crawled into bed with Hubs. I reached over to let him know I was there and felt two wet noses from our two Chihuahuas who were snuggled, horizontally of course, under the covers. Seriously? Okay, the big bed was out.
As I turned to go back to the guest room, the two grandkids were standing in the doorway, asking “Can we sleep with Grandpa and the puppies?” “Absolutely,” I smiled, thinking that now I might be able to sleep. I tucked them into the big bed, then snuck back down the hall to have a few hours of glorious sleep by myself.
I was this close to la-la land when Hubs woke up, came down the hall, and said, “Scoot over. I’ve got the two kids and both dogs in my bed. I’m sleeping in here with you.” Sigh. Fifteen minutes later, I opened my eyes to see both grandkids leaning close to my face and staring at me, waiting for me to wake up and scooch over so they could snuggle in with Grandma and Grandpa. By the time we all got situated, Chi Chi and Paco realized that all the humans were in the guest bed, so they came scrambling down the hall, jumped up and burrowed in.
But as I looked over at my tribe, I smiled and snuggled back under a tiny corner of the covers that wasn’t currently in use by another person or a four-legged fur baby. Breakfast was only two hours away.