What is a „Sleep Divorce“? Explanation, meaning, definition

In a „Sleep Divorce“, a couple decides to sleep in separate beds and/or separate bedrooms.

What is a „Sleep Divorce“? Explanation, meaning, definition

For many couples, sleeping together is one of the most beautiful and intimate experiences of a shared relationship. Whether in a partnership or marriage, the image of sleeping together has become firmly entrenched in our cultural values. In the meantime, however, there are a variety of alternative sleep concepts for couples, such as „sleep divorce“, which seem to challenge traditional concepts. This is accompanied by a trend toward optimizing individual areas of life. Elsewhere, a „sleep divorce“ can also indicate potential problems in the partnership.

Roughly speaking, „sleep divorce“ refers to a situation in which both partners spend the night separately. This does not necessarily mean a different apartment or house, but rather both partners spend the night in separate bedrooms. „Sleep Divorce“ thus describes a sleeping habit that is quite old in itself, in which couples sleep in separate rooms overnight. There can be a variety of reasons for this. The concept of „sleep divorce“ also has proponents and detractors. But what exactly is it and what are the advantages and disadvantages of a „Sleep Divorce“? In the following article, this will be explained in detail.

Definition of the term „Sleep Divorce

The term „Sleep Divorce“ is composed of the two English words „to sleep“ (verb) and „the divorce“ (noun). Symbolically, this refers to a divorce in one’s sleep. The term describes however less a divorce in the dream, but rather a local separation in the sleep. In a sense, it breaks with the old tradition that couples have to spend the night in the same bed. Couples are thus considered – at least in their sleep – to be divorced. However, this condition is not continued beyond the actual sleeping.

While the word „sleep“ tends to be neutral, the word „divorce“ has strong negative connotations. A divorce is an unpleasant and emotionally demanding thing that comes with suffering and pain. The word thus stands in great contrast to the actually rather relaxing and restful sleep. On the one hand, this is meant to show the noticeable break with the tradition of sleeping together, and on the other hand, it is also meant to represent the (local) separation of the couple.

The bottom line, therefore, is that the term „sleep divorce“ describes a condition in which a couple or married couple sleeps over in separate beds or bedrooms and repeats this condition on a regular basis. However, both partners otherwise lead a (potentially) normal relationship life.

Why are more and more couples opting for a „sleep divorce“? Reasons

There are a variety of reasons why more and more couples are opting for the „Sleep Divorce“ concept. This may be due to biorhythmic reasons, health reasons, or again psychological and relationship reasons. Within the following subsections, the most common reasons for a „Sleep Divorce“ will be shown.

Different sleep rhythms

The individual partners in a relationship do not always have the same sleeping hours. Reasons for this can be different work rhythms, such as day and night shifts, or different biorhythms (for example, day and night person). In order not to interfere with each other’s approach to sleep, not to wake each other up or even disturb each other’s sleep, many couples therefore opt for separate sleeping locations.


Snoring can also be considered a veritable reason for implementing „sleep divorce“. Snoring usually causes loud and unpleasant sounds, which are perceived as disturbing by the other partner. Often it even happens that the partner disturbed by the snoring in his sleep can sleep badly or not at all properly because of it. In such a case, a „sleep divorce“ is also an option.

Sleep disturbances

The individual partners in a relationship do not always have a perfect sleep rhythm. Emotional stress, illnesses or other reasons can cause individual partners to spend (unwanted) sleepless nights. During these, they toss and turn in bed, potentially keeping the other partner from sleeping. Even in such a situation, many couples rely on „sleep divorce“.

Stress & Relationship Problems

Last but not least, stress and relationship problems can of course also be the cause of a „Sleep Divorce“. Stress is generally perceived as upsetting and sometimes makes stress sufferers have a very hard time falling asleep, if at all. Relationship problems, on the other hand, cause individual partners to want to separate from their partner not only emotionally, but also spatially, or to need distance. This often happens initially during sleep. A „sleep divorce“ for relationship reasons is thus often the harbinger of a potential separation.

How can a „Sleep Divorce“ be successfully implemented?

In order to successfully implement a „Sleep Divorce“ – and thus not damage the relationship – it is important that both partners can communicate openly and honestly with each other. In purely practical terms, a „Sleep Divorce“ means that an additional bedroom must be set up. However, if a „sleep divorce“ takes place sporadically, the living room and a comfortable couch are often sufficient as alternative sleeping quarters. If necessary, additional bedding, enough pillows and other sleeping utensils should be doubled. In the case of purely health-related causes of a „sleep divorce“, i.e. snoring or sleep apnea, for example, a CPAP sleep device can provide relief if necessary and allow the other partner to sleep peacefully again.

Advantages and disadvantages of a „Sleep Divorce“:

In the following, we would like to show you all the advantages and disadvantages of a „Sleep Divorce“. Here we will start with the advantages of a „Sleep Divorce“:

  • a „Sleep Divorce“ provides in general for a better sleep quality
    and allows more privacy
  • the individual sleep needs can be better fulfilled
  • This, in turn, reduces conflict in the relationship.

Of course, a „sleep divorce“ also has one or two disadvantages:

  • less emotional and physical closeness in a relationship
  • higher demand for living space
  • social stigmatization

Conclusion on the subject of „What is Sleep Divorce“?

So, in conclusion, a „Sleep Divorce“ is an interesting concept for many couples to provide a better night’s rest for both partners. However, in addition to better quality sleep, more privacy and less relationship conflict, a „Sleep Divorce“ can also mean emotional distance from each other. At the same time, „sleep divorce“ is often accompanied by social stigma („Couples ALWAYS have to sleep over together!“ It is often said).

Related to the term „Sleep Divorce“ are, among others, „sleep disorders,“ „relationship problems,“ and „intimacy“ and „night rest.“ In addition, the opposite of „sleep divorce“ can be the term „co-sleeping“, which is sometimes considered the most common sleep concept among couples.

Autor: Pierre von BedeutungOnline

Hallo, ich bin Autor und Macher von BedeutungOnline. Bei BedeutungOnline dreht sich alles um Worte und Sprache. Denn wie wir sprechen und worüber wir sprechen, formt wie wir die Welt sehen und was uns wichtig ist. Das darzustellen, begeistert mich und deswegen schreibe ich für dich Beiträge über ausgewählte Worte, die in der deutschen Sprache gesprochen werden. Seit 2004 arbeite ich als Journalist. Ich habe Psychologie und Philosophie mit Schwerpunkt Sprache und Bedeutung studiert. Ich arbeite fast täglich an BedeutungOnline und erstelle laufend für dich neue Beiträge. Mehr über BedeutungOnline.de und mich erfährst du hier.

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