Sharing Your Bed May Be Bad for Your Health


Couples should consider sleeping apart for the good of their health and relationship, say experts.

One study found that, on average, couples suffered 50 percent more sleep disturbances if they shared a bed.

The modern tradition of the marital bed only began with the industrial revolution, when people moving to overcrowded towns and cities found themselves short of living space. Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples to sleep apart.


BBC News January 26, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

It should come as no surprise that sleeping alone can improve the quality of your rest.

Ever wonder why children with their own bedrooms seem to sleep so well through the night, while their parents sharing a bed down the hall tend to toss and turn and have trouble falling or staying asleep?

There are many reasons for sleep differences between children and adults, of course, but the benefit of sleeping in a bed and bedroom alone is certainly one of them.

Movement in or on your bed not made by you has the potential to disturb your sleep. So do light, noise, electromagnetic fields, and any number of other disruptive influences in your bedroom.

Why Good Sleep is So Important

The amount and quality of your sleep isn’t something to be taken lightly. Many people give sleep too little priority on the list of things they do to be healthy.

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The consequences of a chronic lack of rest are much more serious and far-reaching than the vague feeling of fatigue you experience on and off during the day.

Sleep is just as important to your overall health and longevity as good nutrition, sufficient exercise and the ability to manage your emotions and the stress of daily life.

Insufficient, poor quality sleep can undermine all your other efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle. Lack of sleep can set the stage for some very serious illnesses, including:

Changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders

Do You or Your Partner Have Insomnia?

The average night’s sleep lasts under seven hours according to a 2008 poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

The NSF recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night as a guideline, which you should then tailor to meet your individual sleep requirements.

Despite these recommendations, up to 40 percent of adults report symptoms of insomnia that make it difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Insomnia, whether chronic or occasional, is defined as:

  1. Difficulty falling asleep
  2. Waking frequently during the night
  3. Waking too early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep
  4. Waking feeling un-refreshed

Insomnia affects your hormone levels, accelerates aging, and increases your risk for serious disease.

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The top underlying causes of sleep disorders include:

  • Stress: All types of negative emotions, including worry, fear, anxiety, etc., can keep you up at night. Stress tops the list when it comes to pinning down the cause of insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
  • Overactive adrenals: Increased levels of stress hormones in your body can lead to a hyper-aroused state that makes it difficult to sleep.
  • Eye problems: People with damage to their optic nerve can have problems sleeping, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up at strange times, sleepiness during the day and insomnia at night.
  • EMF Disturbances: Using a cell phone before going to bed could cause insomnia, headaches and confusion, and may also cut your amount of deep sleep, interfering with your body‘s ability to refresh itself. Additionally you may have an improperly wired bedroom with unshielded wires or you might have a point source of high EMFs such as a refrigerator on the other side of your bedroom wall. Magnetic fields are not blocked by walls and it will go right through them.

If either you or your partner suffer from insomnia and share a bedroom, neither of you is getting the high quality sleep you need for good health.

Could Separate Bedrooms Be the Answer?

Many couples object strenuously to sleeping apart. In fact, less than 10 percent of partners in their 40’s and 50’s surveyed for the British study had separate bedrooms.

However, if you and your partner aren’t sleeping well together and you’re willing to try an alternative arrangement, I strongly recommend experimenting with separate sleeping quarters.

You may discover your own bedroom is exactly what you need for proper sleep, especially if your partner snores, hogs the covers, moves around or gets up frequently during the night.

The sacrifice you make by parting ways at bedtime could potentially mean the difference between good and poor health for both of you. I’m sure many couples, given an informed choice, would gladly trade sleeping in the same bed for robust good health and vitality into their golden years together.

Top Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

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If you and your partner are not prepared to sleep separately, there are still plenty of things you can do to improve the quality of your rest.

  • Exercise regularly. A Stanford University Medical School study found that after 16 weeks in a moderate-intensity exercise program, subjects were able to fall asleep about 15 minutes earlier and sleep about 45 minutes longer at night. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake.
  • Address the emotional component of insomnia by using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT can help balance your body’s bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and the improvement is remarkably rapid.
  • Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep. This includes keeping the temperature cool, adding in some white noise if you need it and making sure your room is pitch-black. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. For this reason, I highly recommend adding room darkening drapes to your bedroom, or if this is not possible wearing an eye mask to block out any stray light.
  • Get to bed as early as possible. Our systems, particularly the adrenals, do a majority of their recharging or recovering during the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which then secondarily backs up into your entire system and causes further disruption of your health.
  • Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan need to produce melatonin and serotonin. Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. This will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
  • No TV right before bed. In fact, get the TV out of your bedroom. It is too stimulating to your brain and it will take longer to fall asleep. It also disrupts the circadian rhythm of your pineal gland and production of melatonin and serotonin.

For more ideas to resolve insomnia and other sleep issues, read my 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.

It is very important to value sleep as one of your most precious resources for health and happiness. If you do that, you can then figure out what you need to sleep really well.

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February 18, 2010