What do you think when you watch re-runs of old TV shows where married couples retire to a bedroom with two twin beds a very safe distance from one another?
You might make a joke about how Lucy got pregnant with Ricky way over there — remember, it was a time when you couldn’t even say “pregnant” on TV — but maybe those television censors were actually on to something.
A recent Wall Street Journal blog post reported on a presentation by British sleep specialist Neil Stanley:
Dr. Stanley, who heads a sleep laboratory at the University of Surrey, reported at the British Science Festival that married people suffer 50% more harmful sleep disturbances if they share a bed, the BBC reports. Poor sleep can cause depression, heart disease, strokes, lung disorders and accidents, he says.
The WSJ went on to say:
In 2005, a National Sleep Foundation survey showed 23% of married Americans sleep alone, an increase from 12% in 2001, CNN reported last year. A survey of builders and architects found many are predicting that double master bedrooms will soon be the norm, Glamour reports.
“Couples today are writing their own script, rewriting how to have a marriage,” said Pamela J. Smock, a University of Michigan sociologist. “The growing need for separate bedrooms also represents the speed-up of family life — women’s roles have changed — and the need for extra space eases the strain on the relationship. If one of them snores, the other one won’t be able to perform the next day. It’s nothing to do with social class, and it’s not necessarily indicative of marital discord.”
John and I had a bumpy start to cohabitating early in our marriage. He snored and that kept me awake. I twitched all night, which kept him awake. I like to tuck in the covers at the foot of the bed, John likes to let his feet wiggle free off the end of the bed. I like to be toasty under the covers, John wants the window open when it’s freezing in February.
See the problem?
John solved the snoring problem by getting fitted for a mouthpiece that keeps his mouth slightly open. It helped both of us sleep better. But it didn’t solve my twitching. It didn’t help that John is a very light sleeper.
I went to the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center where they hooked me up to a million wires all over my body, put a plastic tube up my nose and down my throat, then told me to sleep for the night. Somehow, I did.
They told me an average person moves a few times each hour as they sleep. I was moving dozens of times. Apparently part of the reason I’m thin is that I’m exercising all night.
The doctors said this movement wasn’t hurting my sleep at all. I was hitting all the right stages at all the right times. To try to help John, though, they offered me medication.
One of the pills I tried is also used for people who have seizures. One was a powerful and addictive muscle relaxer. I didn’t like how any of them made me feel. I was going to have to drug myself for the rest of my life so I didn’t bother the man I loved?
Finally, we arrived at our own solution. We bought a king-size bed frame and two extra long twin mattress sets. We put our box springs and mattresses side by side, with just the tiniest gap between them, with separate sheets so I can tuck mine in and John can leave his loose. I have a blanket on right now. John doesn’t.
What I love about our solution is it didn’t mean losing John to another bedroom. I love our ritual of reading at bedtime, sharing little passages that we like with one another. It feels very intimate and connected to share that quiet time with him, and I like having him there when I wake up in the morning.
So we’ll pass on the double master bedroom for now, but Lucy and Ricky, I think you were visionaries and not just because you invented the idea of the rerun.