In the past I've made some references to the fact that Andrea and I have separate bedrooms. If you've picked up on those references you may be wondering why we do not share a bedroom, like most couples do. We normally get strange looks, at best, when someone first finds out about our non-traditional sleeping arrangement, so I thought it was probably due an explanation.
We did share a room for the first several years of our marriage. A number of years ago, however, I realized that I I had indoor allergies which were causing me quite a few problems, and preventing me from sleeping. Andrea, on the other hand, has more outdoor allergies, so sleeping with the windows open caused problems for her. We found that the best compromise was to simply sleep in separate rooms.
Once we began sleeping in separate rooms we quickly discovered several additional benefits. The first is that it gives us the flexibility to keep different sleep schedules without keeping each other awake. This is especially nice in our situation since Andrea tends to stay up for several hours after I go to bed.
The second benefit is that we can each have our own bedtime routines without interfering with the routine or sleep of the other. I like to read before going to sleep, which means I need to have a light on, which could keep Andrea awake if she were sharing a bed with me. Andrea, on the other hand, likes to sometimes have noise when she's going to sleep, either in the form of an audio book or even the tv. While she can use headphones, it is a bit inconvenient.
Another advantage that we've discovered with sleeping separately is that we both sleep better. Andrea tends to toss and turn quite a bit, so when we are sharing a bed she always worries that she'll keep me awake, which prevents her from sleeping as well. I, on the other hand, always worry about crowding her, so try to stay as close to the edge of the bed as possible, which means I also do not sleep as well. In addition to those issues, there is also the fact that any movement that either of us makes has the potential for interrupting the sleep of the other.
There are downsides to our desire to sleep separately. The biggest of these is that it requires us to have a home with two bedrooms. Our current home is less than 1,000 square feet, so in practice the impact isn't really that great. I doubt that we would have chosen a smaller home, even without the need for a second bedroom, because both bedrooms serve double duty. Andrea's bedroom also serves has her craft and sewing room. My bedroom is also used as my home office, which actually works out very well.
The other downside is that it impacts our lodging choices when travelling. When possible we try to stay places with two beds. Usually this isn't very difficult to find in major hotel chains, but can be a challenge to find in a bed and breakfast or small cabin. We have been known to take an air mattress along, so I can sleep on the floor if only a single bed is available. This was the case a few years ago when we stayed at the Wigwam Village Inn in Cave City, KY. This was such a unique location that I was perfectly willing to sleep on an air mattress. I suspect that we'll stay there again in the future and I'll most likely take the air mattress along then as well.
I believe that more people would enjoy the benefits of sleeping separately if they were willing to try it. There seems, however, to be strong social pressure for married couples to share a bedroom. There is a stereotype that when couples do not sleep together it is a sign of problems in their relationship. That couldn't be farther from the truth in our situation, however. I can understand, though, why some people might be hesitant to try sleeping separately, but I recommend that everyone at least give it some though, especially if the benefits I've mention sound attractive.