“My husband and I no longer sleep together,” TikTok creator Abby Howard explained in a recent video. Abby and her husband Matt have been sharing their lives on the app since 2020, and their recent TikTok has sparked a lot of conversation in their comment section. During a getting ready video, Abby talks about why the couple decided to get a temporary sleep divorce.
“I always preferred having roommates. At sleepovers or on trips I was always the first to volunteer to share a bed,” Abby explains. “But now I’m in the master bedroom and Matt is in the guest bedroom of his own home. Let me explain.”
Matt and Abby welcomed their first child, Griffin, last July, and this February they announced she’s pregnant with their second child. In the TikTok, Abby explained they are still waking up throughout the night to take care of Griffin, but since he is no longer nursing throughout the night they’ve decided Matt can take the night shift duties.
“So rather than both of us having interrupted sleep in the night, it’s just one of us,” Abby goes on to say. Matt is a light sleeper, able to sleep in, and can take naps throughout the day, all characteristics Abby does not possess. She explained she’s a very deep sleeper, making her anxious at night trying to listen for the baby monitor resulting in essentially no sleep.
“I was super hesitant at first, but sometimes you just gotta sleep,” Abby states. “This arrangement is only temporary, plus I’m pregnant so quality rest is super important.”
The comment section was quick to throw in their opinions. Lots of initial comments were similar to this response, “Did this and now I’m divorced. Not the best idea.”
Despite these negative reactions, there were lots of people sharing their success stories of having their own sleep divorce, with one comment saying, “My parents don’t sleep together and they’re happily married for over 30 years. Don’t listen to the negativity.”
The top comments on the TikTok are calling to normalize sleeping in separate rooms and pointing out the importance in allowing people to prioritize their sleep. “Sleep is a priority folks and don’t let anyone gaslight you otherwise,” one person commented.
How did Matt and Abby react to all of this? In a follow-up TikTok, the couple pointed out that those commenting negative things simply don’t understand their relationship. They even share they’re probably together 98% of the time during awake hours, which might be too much they joke.
“You’ve been so much happier because you’ve been actually sleeping and you haven’t been waking up as much” Matt explains. They also talked about the responses they’ve been getting to this TikTok on their podcast with Matt continuing saying, “TikTok is freaking out thinking we’re headed for divorce, which is hilarious.”
The couple also made note in their response video and podcast that their relationship is still as healthy as ever. “We’re still sleeping together, but not sleeping together if you know what I mean” Matt jokingly points out.
What Is a Sleep Divorce?
Dr. Shelby Harris, Sleepopolis’ director of sleep health, explains, “A sleep divorce is when a couple decides to sleep in separate beds or separate rooms due to differences in sleep patterns, habits, and preferences that are disrupting the quality of their sleep.”
“I don’t really like the term ‘sleep divorce’ as it tends to have the connotation that the relationship has issues. A sleep divorce, when consciously made as a decision together, can actually bring couples closer together as it lets go of any resentment related to poor sleep. Better sleep often equals better mood and a stronger connection as a couple” Dr. Harris continues.
In November of 2022, Sleepopolis analyzed Twitter to understand people’s overall sentiment towards sleep divorce. Our report found an overall positive sentiment towards the practice, with 41% of tweets were in favor of it, 35% of tweets were neutral on their stance, and 24% of tweets against it.
If you are thinking about getting a sleep divorce, here’s what Dr. Harris recommends.
- If you’re concerned about how to approach the conversation, Dr. Harris suggests bringing it up as a health and emotional regulation concern for both yourself and your partner. Harris continues saying, “It’s important to not put all the blame on one partner for the reason that you are missing out on sleep. Oftentimes, sleeping separately can bring couples closer together as it lets go of any resentment related to poor sleep, which can help to strengthen their connection as a couple.”
- If you’re concerned about intimacy, Dr. Harris suggests picking one bed used for intimacy and scheduling sex regularly to ensure your physical needs are being met. “Couples can still do all of the things that they want to do to have time together, but when it’s time to go to sleep, you go to your separate spaces” Harris explains.