To sleep, perchance to dream

We sixty somethings are reluctant to admit it but many of us don’t regularly share a bed with our partners. Some of us even sleep in separate rooms. Though there are certainly ghostly visitations, many partners have found that the quality of their sleep is enhanced ten-fold by sleeping apart. In fact,  British sleep researchers say the secret of a happy marriage may be separate beds- or even separate bedrooms.(

No matter how much you love your mate and visa versa, it’s hard to deal with such problems as: tossing, turning, twitching and thrashing;  frequent forays to the restroom; sleep talking, walking, and the ever popular snoring.  If insomnia rears it’s head in the middle of the night, partners may have very different ways of dealing with it: watching TV without the sound; turning the light on to read; playing games on the IPOD, listening to the radio, turning on the noise machine  to deafening thunder, etc.  When morning comes, the partners who have battled sleep deprivation through the night stare balefully at each other across the disheveled bed with bloodshot eyes and splitting headaches, wondering why they ever got together in the first place.

In 2005 it was reported in a National Sleep Foundation survey that nearly one in four American couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds. Recent studies in England and Japan have found similar results. If only there wasn’t such a stigma associated with the practice! Admitting that you don’t share a bed with your partner seems to imply that you have a dysfunctional relationship. Couples often make sure they share a bed when overnight guests are in the house. But why put on an act? Sleeping separately doesn’t have to mean a marriage is on the rocks.  It can mean whatever the partners want or need it to mean. On Valentine’s Day it’s good to remember that sleeping apart may actually enhance romance, rather than curtail it.  Tired, miserable partners do not feel romantic, same bed or same room not withstanding.

Of course, there are poems about beds.

Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom

Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend-
Bed awaits me at the end.

Though I go in pride and strength,
I’ll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed I’m bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days but lead to bed.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall-
I’m a fool to rise at all!
-Dorothy Parker

Categories: observations

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