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Sleeping Together and Other Relationship Traditions Worth Revisiting

by Marianne Navada

Most of our ideas on how relationships work are based on external factors. Family, friends, culture, movies, celebrities, traditions, and expert opinions, form our expectations. That’s why having an authentic relationship can be challenging. It takes an understanding of what WE FEEL works for us, versus what WE HAVE LEARNED is wrong or acceptable.

Take the bedroom, for example. The socially popular sleeping arrangement for couples is to sleep in the same bed. In movies, couples that are passionately in love don’t call it a night and sleep in adjacent beds. Have you ever seen an HGTV episode wherein a couple is in search of a master bedroom that can fit two full beds? Man caves and designated spaces are fine, but sleeping should be done together. At least that’s the message we get. But that hasn’t always been the case.

That’s why having an authentic relationship can be challenging. It takes an understanding of what WE FEEL works for us, versus what WE HAVE LEARNED is wrong or acceptable.

History Comes Full Circle

The tradition of sleeping in the same bed took off in the late 50s. Prior to that, it was common and advised for married couples to sleep in separate beds. Victorian doctors believed it was unhealthy for people to share beds. Fears ranged from breathing in bad air to the stronger person robbing the vitality of the weaker during sleep.

By the late 50s, sleeping in separate beds meant a troubled marriage. This logic has carried on, until now…

Researchers are finding quantifiable benefits of sleeping in separate beds. A third of sleep disturbances are caused by a partner’s movement. More sleep disruptions lead to lack of better sleep, which compromises overall mood. Whether it’s snoring, different sleep times, use of our digital devices in bed, people seem to get better sleep when they are alone.

With the prioritization of self-care and proven health benefits of a good night’s rest, there is a shift in the way we view companionship during sleep.

The Lessons

In yoga classes, we are taught to get out of our comfort zone, be authentic, and explore how we feel. What happens when we take the same mentality and apply it to our relationships?

Live less out of traditions and more out of intent. 

Traditions

Traditions act as safety nets. They’re similar to habits. We do, without thinking. Traditions make life more efficient, secure, and predictable. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why traditions can’t just be disregarded that easily. There are social repercussions to breaking them. What would our friends think if they saw two beds in the master bedroom? However, mindful living means asking questions about why we do things. In this process of exploration, we learn a lot about ourselves, the world around us, and why we act the way we do. Have you tried sleeping in separate beds? If you sleep better alone, is it worth compromising sleep for the sake of what others might think about the quality of your relationship?

Traditions act as safety nets. They’re similar to habits. We do, without thinking.

Sleeping arrangements are not just the only thing dictated by socety: how little is too little sex? Should couples share a bank account? Should they give each other gifts during Valentine’s Day?

Using metrics that are defined by traditions to show love or that we care can also cause unnecessary stress in a relationship. If you find yourself getting better sleep when you sleep alone in the bed, but are afraid to bring it up to your partner, this can cause anxiety.

Building an authentic relationship takes work, honesty, and confidence. But it’s a relationship that fosters self-confidence and clarity.

Did You Know?

If sleeping in separate beds seems a bit odd to you right now, aristocratic couples have traditionally slept in separate rooms. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip apparently adhere to this practice. Of course, this arrangement requires a certain amount of real estate.

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