Is sleeping in the same bed harming your relationship? How 'bout your health?

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Have you ever been rudely awakened at 3 a.m. when your bed mate takes all the covers or rolls on top of you? How about trying to fall asleep while your partner snores like an asthmatic hog? According to sleep specialist Dr. Neil Stanley, couples should sleep separately for the good of their health and their relationship.

Dr. Stanley is quick to point out that couples suffer 50% more sleep disturbances when they share a bed and that historically, people are not actually meant to sleep beside one another.

The tradition of couples sharing a bed did not arise until the industrial revolution, when overcrowding and lack of space made it a necessity.  According to Dr. Stanley, who sleeps separately from his wife, the marital bed was intended for sex, not sleep. He suggests more people consider this arrangement.

"We all know what it's like to have a cuddle and then say 'I'm going to sleep now' and go to the opposite side of the bed. So why not just toddle off down the landing?"

According to the Stanley, who created Britain's premier sleep laboratory at the University of Surrey,  poor sleep that comes of bed sharing is linked to depression, strokes, lung disorders, heart disease, car accidents and even divorce.

A study conducted by Dr. Robert Meadows, of the University of Surrey, found that when couples share a bed and one of the partners moves, there is a 50% chance that the other will be disturbed as a result.

"People actually feel that they sleep better when they are with a partner but the evidence suggests otherwise," says Dr. Meadows.

Despite these findings, couples remain reluctant to sleep separately, with only 8% of those in their 40s and 50s sleeping in different rooms. Perhaps separate beds in the same room might be a better idea, though even that may be a foreign concept in modern relationships.

"It's about what makes you happy," says Dr. Stanley. "If you've been sleeping together and you both sleep perfectly well, then don't change, but don't be afraid to do something different."

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