~ JANUARY 2023 ~
When Siobhan, 27, a digital content creator, and Jamie, 25, a web developer, moved in together in Canada after a year of long-distance dating, sharing a bed every night instantly caused tension in their relationship.
“Because of my sleep disorder, which makes it hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep, having different work and sleep schedules caused contention between the two of us,” Siobhan tells Elite Daily. The constant sleep deprivation affected their ability to communicate throughout the day. Still, they didn’t see an easy alternative. “It took us time to come around to the idea of sleeping in separate rooms, not only because it felt like we were deviating from a relationship norm, but also because we really enjoy winding down together before going to bed,” Siobhan says.
Ultimately, the couple realized they were willing to sacrifice sleeping together if it meant they would regain consistency in their sleep patterns and individual routines. Once they found a two-bedroom apartment that worked for them, Siobhan and Jamie eased into the transition by sleeping separately for a few nights and checking in with each other. “What we found very quickly was by resolving the sleep-related tension we were having, we were able to resolve a lot of other small disagreements,” Siobhan says. Both Siobhan and Jamie say choosing to sleep apart hasn’t changed anything about their relationship, besides giving them both the opportunity to prioritize their individuality while still committing to each other every day.
In November 2022, Siobhan shared her POV on TikTok that having separate rooms can be a “game changer” for couples who live together. Like Siobhan and Jamie, plenty of young couples on the platform have found that this living situation is working for them.
The hashtag #separaterooms has over 1 million views, filled with couples of all relationship statuses (married, engaged, and dating) giving their followers an inside look at this unconventional setup. And while therapists say sleeping separately will impact each couple differently, for these TikTok creators, it’s actually strengthened their relationship while allowing them the space to be themselves.
Why Move In Together But Sleep Apart?
There are many reasons a couple might decide to sleep separately, and much of it comes down to individual routines and preferences. “People sleep more deeply without external stimulants, meaning you sleep better alone,” clinical psychologist and couples therapist Gaby Balsells tells Elite Daily. “By sleeping separately, you are not affecting your partner with your routine, so you have greater freedom over your daily schedule, you have personal space to decorate and maintain as you see fit, you can deal with your own cleanliness preferences, and you have the choice to take time apart when needed or desired.” If you want to decorate your room with Harry Styles posters but your partner has a totally different aesthetic, having your own rooms could be the way to go.
Partners Karol, 26, a professional makeup artist, and Yasmine, 27, a social media manager, might not be covering their NYC apartment in Harry Styles posters, but they do appreciate the freedom that comes with sleeping in different rooms. “I’m a lot messier than Yasmine, and I definitely don’t make my bed every morning like they do, so it’s nice to have authority over my sleeping space and not feel obligated to tidy to anyone’s standards but my own,” Karol tells Elite Daily. “I like that I have a place to be selfish with my decor,” Yasmine adds. “When Karol sleeps over, it’s comforting to know that they will respect my space and the way I like to organize it.”
When Karol and Yasmine first shared their living situation with their TikTok followers in June 2022, viewers immediately began to question their decision. “Some people could relate and even realized they wanted this for themselves, too,” Karol says. “Others claimed this was going to break us up and that we might as well live in our own apartments.”
Licensed therapist Curren Trusty recognizes that this setup falls outside of societal norms (especially for young people who haven’t been together for more than a few years), and therefore can be subject to judgment from others. “In these cases, I encourage couples to focus on meeting each other’s needs without concern about the external gaze,” Trusty says. If sleeping separately works for you and your partner, let the haters keep their opinions to themselves.
How Does Sleeping Alone Change Your Dynamic As A Couple?
Both couples found that having their own spaces encourages a more deliberate approach to the time they spend together before bed. For Karol and Yasmine, sleeping separately motivates them to be more honest with each other when it comes to communicating their needs. “On nights when one of us is feeling emotional, we ask each other clear questions like, ‘How can I make you feel better right now?’ Whether that’s sleeping together for a night, spending extra time together before going to bed, or planning a date night that weekend, we always respect each other’s feelings,” Yasmine says.
Siobhan and Jamie use their mornings to make up for any lost time together from the night before. “We both work from home, so after spending some time together in the morning, we spend the days in our respective work spaces and reconnect in the afternoon to go on a walk together or just hang out and chat,” Siobhan says.
Similar to Karol and Yasmine, Siobhan and Jamie assess each other’s needs each night, creating new routines like watching a movie, going for a walk, or spending their nighttime routine alone according to their expectations and wants. “Having our own space makes us that much more excited to come back together and reconnect, making our time before bed more purposeful,” Siobhan says.
Kayla, 19, and Nick, 21, college students in Mississippi, believe the reason many couples split up is that they don’t know how to healthily coexist. So from the minute they moved in together after a little over a year of dating, they focused on creating boundaries that would strengthen their relationship and prepare them for marriage one day. Having separate bedrooms is a way for them to prioritize productive cohabitation as they prepare for that next step. “Learning how to live together and work out our problems at what feels like marriage level — being that living together is a huge commitment to each other — is definitely helping us overcome obstacles that most couples don’t work through until their late 20s or early 30s,” Kayla says.
While it might seem like sleeping solo would make sex a rare occurrence, these couples all say the decision has had the opposite effect. “It’s really impactful for us to have our own spaces to explore self-pleasure in a private and safe space, while still having the option to come together in Yasmine’s room, which has a bigger bed,” Karol says.
Kayla and Nick say this living situation hasn’t changed much about their sex life, but it has introduced a new element of spontaneity in the bedroom (or in this case, the bedrooms). “The space we’ve created by having our own rooms has made being intimate with one another much more exciting,” Kayla says.
How To Know If Sleeping Separately Is For You
If you’re curious about this living arrangement, Balsells recommends a trial-and-error approach. “Keep an open mind. Try sleeping separately for one night and check in with each other in the morning to see how it felt,” Balsells says. “If there’s still interest, try it out for one whole week. It’s normal for it to feel weird because it’s a new habit.”
Obviously, it may be more affordable to share a bedroom, which Siobhan and Jamie considered before making the decision. “We agreed on a budget that felt reasonable and since it was important to us to have separate rooms, we were a bit more flexible on things like location — deciding we were willing to live a bit out of the city center,” Siobhan says. If you’re considering sleeping separately, but the price of a two-bedroom is intimidating, have a discussion with your partner about the places in your budget you’re both willing to cut.
Negative assumptions aside, having separate bedrooms most likely won’t hurt your relationship as long as you’re both intentional. “There’s an idea that once you move in with your partner you become one single entity, and that may be fine for some, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Karol says. “You can accept one another’s individuality in its entirety while creating enough space for you both to coexist.”
Both Karol and Yasmine and Siobhan and Jamie recently got engaged, and according to the two couples, this living situation gave them the strength and courage to grow together while maintaining their personal boundaries. Siobhan and Jamie are soaking up all the fiancé vibes right now, but they’re planning on keeping up with their unique sleeping arrangement long after they say “I do,” as long as it still works for them.
Karol and Yasmine don’t believe marriage will necessarily change anything about the foundation of their relationship, including their decision to maintain individual rooms. “I don’t see us ever merging bedrooms, not permanently,” Karol presumes. “As we move towards marriage we’re excited to continue exploring our boundaries and needs, in whatever way they look.”