PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Would you get a better night’s sleep if you slept next to someone or slept alone?
Some surveys show more couples are now sleeping in separate beds.
So are they on to something? Do you get a better night’s sleep that way? Can you have a better relationship that way?
We asked two local experts for their opinions.
Dr. Wendy Troxel is with the Rand Corporation. Dr. Daniel Buysse is with the University of Pittsburgh’s Sleep Medicine Institute.
Both say there’s evidence that we’re actually programmed to want to sleep with someone else.
“I think psychologically we benefit from closeness with another human being at night,” said Dr. Troxel. “When you think about sleep, it’s a really vulnerable state to be in.”
“Probably with the course of our evolution, we were really designed to sleep together with other people,” said Dr. Buysse.
Yet everything from stealing covers, to different work shifts, to different temperature preferences can drive couples to separate beds.
One group estimates that soon, 60 percent of new, custom homes will have dual master bedrooms.
Michelle Schocker from Prudential Preferred Realty showed us a home that’s for sale in Green Tree with two master bedrooms and two master baths.
“This was designed for two people who want their own space and still be together,” said Schocker.
Buysse and Troxel are now studying how “in sync” couples are as they sleep.
Participants in their study wear devices that look like wristwatches, but they actually measure whether one person waking, wakes the other. The goal is know if harmonious sleep patterns mean harmonious relationships.
Sometimes simple changes can get couple back into the same bed.
“Getting a larger bed makes a big difference,” said Dr. Troxel.
Other times, it’s more complex. While treatment can help with snoring or sleep apnea, sleeping in separate spaces sometimes works better for people with problems such as insomnia.
“I’ve seen a lot of patients who need to sleep apart just because that’s the only way they can get quality sleep,” said Dr. Buysse.
“It’s not a one size fits all approach,” said Dr. Troxel.
However, both experts say that if a couple does decide to sleep apart, it’s still important to spend some time together not only for intimacy, but also just for physical closeness.