Here's a NYT article on a new book about how sleeping in the same bed impacts relationships (CLICK HERE - may require NYT sign-in/registration).

I think that in general, humans are happier sleeping together. That's why family bedding makes good sense for babies and little kids; adults don't like sleeping alone...why should children?. I can't think of any culture in which people don't sleep together in some configuration or another. People just don't like sleeping alone.

But I suspect that more children than ever before are sleeping alone these days. Many/most children used to share a bed with one or more siblings. I did, and I'll bet lots of you did, too. Now most children have their own bed in their own bedroom, but I'll bet lots of families are like ours and find that siblings often wind up sharing a bed with a parent or brother or sister even when they have their own sleep space.

As for grown-ups sleeping together, I think it's one of the key elements of a healthy love relationship - being able to happily and comfortably share a sleep space at night. It's like recharging time.

I had a boyfriend once who snored so violently that I wondered what I would do if we ever became serious enough to live together and share a bed. It would have been a really serious problem. I simply could not have shared a bed with him every night.


Laura said...

we practicd the family bed with all but our youngest due to his chronic lung disease, reflux and nightime continuous tube feedings. Now that he is older, healthier and tube-less, he joins us occasionally now but like his sisters, he often climbs in bed with a sibling too. When she first moved out, our first born complained about how weird it felt to be all alone at night.

Katharine said...

I didn't do the family bed with my oldest, now 23, when she was an infant or toddler, because with the way I was raised, it never occurred to me. But after her father and I divorced, she often liked having me sleep in her bed with her.

Years later, my second husband and I did do the family bed with our sons, now 12 and 5. We all have special memories of those years. Our sons, who now share a bedroom, sometimes crawl into our bed when they have a bad dream or don't feel well. It's comforting for them and for us too.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get in my parents' bed, but I slept with my sister from the time I left my crib to age 16 when she left home for college. It was nice. I feel sorry for kids who don't share a room with a brother or sister. It's a great way to have to learn to get along with other people, and we used to have some great late-night talks.

I know some folks with new college freshmen and they are telling me that their children are freaking about the dorm rooms and the shared bathrooms--because they didn't share growing up. This much isolation is not good IMO.

Stefaneener said...

I wish my kids would sleep with each other and not me. I would happily sleep alone -- years of being woken up are taking their toll.

Anonymous said...

oh cry me a river. why, the second that poor people get some money do they get a house where EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN SPACE???? do you know how many of these people who grew up crammed all into one bedroom longed for some privacy?
plenty of people like to sleep alone. at least some of the time. because of the nature of marriage, yeah you want to sleep in the same bed with your spouse. and there are times when little kids want to be with their parents, when they think they hear a noise or something. but it isnt pathological to not feel the need for people piling right on top of you. and what about unmarried single adults? well, I guess, to paraphrase crosby stills and nash, if you cant be with one you love, find someone, anyone, to sleep in your bed at night. oh, I know someone is going to mention the fact that so many single people sleep with pets as "proof"...well depends on the pet...when my roommate had this cat, it would sleep on my head (note she did not let it sleep in HER room) until I finally had enough and tossed it out the door and then the dang thing would keep me up all night scratching the door to get in. after that, yeah, a nice pillow, some nice alone time, yeah. I like sleeping with my husband because hes my HUSBAND, not because I need a warm body and he's available.
give me a break.
dont get me wrong, I have had some excellent times when my older kid would have me lay down with her till she went to sleep during her fifth grade year and when my little one crawls in but because we never did the "family bed"...we are not tied to it and the kids CAN sleep alone.
as far as the dorm things go...maybe its more about the fact that the rooms are miniscule and a lot of roommates turn out to be hellish. my first dorm roommate was the slut from hell..a different man every night and all the sound effects. no thank you.

dancediva said...

I guess I'm in the minority, but I prefer sleeping alone. My boyfriend is a night owl and likes to watch Adult Swim up until about 1:30 or so, whereas I'm barely able to get through Jon Stewart because I'm so tired by then. So when I'm at his house, a lot of the time he'll go to the living room and sleep on the couch, since I also get up for work earlier than he does, and that way I don't disturb him when I get up.

I think it's because I'm so hot-natured, but I'm just not the cuddly type, except for maybe RIGHT when you get in bed. When I'm ready to go to sleep, get away. I think that this is an issue that couples have to figure out for themselves and there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

dedanaan said...

I absolutely hate sharing a bed. I haven't had a good night's rest since my boyfriend and I moved in together five years ago. This has had serious effects on my health, my libido, and my attitude. I'm tired and grumpy most of the time, and I have no energy for exercise and no enthusiasm for life. It's gotten to the point where I'm either going to have to get my own bed or end the relationship. Sleep deprivation is killing me...literally.

I've had a lot of people tell me that they'd rather sleep apart from their spouse but don't because to do so implies that they have no sex life, aren't getting along, etc. In other words, they cave to social pressure. At the same time, you read report after report about how Americans are sleep deprived. Coincidence? Dunno, but in my case it's true.

Clisby said...

Not sure where you get the idea that adults don't like sleeping alone - I LOVE sleeping alone. It's one of the great luxuries in life.

I can remember, as a child, liking to sleep in the same room as siblings. I have no recollection at all of wanting to be in the same bed.

Both of our children (now 4 and 10) have slept with us at various times. It's not a big deal, but my preference would be to live in one of those upper-class Edwardian households where I HAVE MY OWN ROOM.

anonymous in case the spouse reads this said...

I wish I could afford a house where I could have my own bedroom.
Maybe it comes from getting married late (30's) and not having a lot of sleep-over dates before that, but I've never really gotten used to sharing - I always end up pushed right to the edge of the bed.
Also, in the past year my spouse has started snoring horribly. I wake up more tired than when I went to sleep, because I sleep fitfully.

I usually sleep on the couch when I don't have to get up early for work. A couple of nights per week keeps me some rested.

Sarada said...

Heavy duty snoring always indicates a sleep disorder, according to Dr. Dement, the sleep disorder guy. Probably hooking him up to a sleep apnea machine would have solved the problem.

katie allison granju said...

Him dumping me also solved the problem ;-)


Les Jones said...

Katie, I just got a formal diagnosis of sleep apnea. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but everyone who has obstructive sleep apnea snores.

I got my CPAP machine this week to treat sleep apnea. Meanwhile I've been using BreatheRight strips and OTC snore spray. My wife says they've eliminated my snoring. (At least until the BreatheRight strips come off, which they sometimes do before dawn.)