Press-Republican

FYI...

May 4, 2014

The case for separate beds

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

"Man since time immemorial has made preparation for sleep, either laying an animal pelt on the ground or using plant matter as some sort of mattress," according to sleep expert Neil Stanley. "Originally we all slept together on the ground, mainly because we had nowhere else, but also for warmth and security."

Warmth and security? We have flannel pajamas and deadbolts now.

There have been times throughout the history of slumber that couples did not share a bed. Ancient Romans retreated to their separate quarters in the evening. On "The Dick Van Dyke Show," Laura and Rob Petrie turned in to their separate beds, and I bet they slept great.

The only thing I'd change about this set up would be to shove the beds closer together and have two nightstands on either end. Having your own bed is a luxury. Having your own bed and nightstand? Yes, please.

Our first married bed was a queen. It sagged terribly in the middle and made us roll together. We'd wake up spooning - forced that way by the bed - and sweaty. Our second bed, also a queen, developed a rather large hump in the middle from all the edge hugging we did during the night. Ten years into our marriage, we finally have a king. There is more than enough room for our whole family to sleep comfortably, yet that twin the other night - it was amazing.

So what's holding me back from selling our king mattress and ordering two twins? Society! Mention separate beds today and most people assume marital troubles.

"In our culture, sharing a bed is a sign of intimacy, and it could also be a barometer of the health of the relationship," sleep expert Anne Bartolucci told me when I called her for backup. "Falling asleep in the company of another person puts you in a very vulnerable position, and it shows a certain amount of trust. There's a reason that 'sleeping with' someone is one of our expressions for sex. Also, it's a bonding experience, and it's been shown that couples who share a bed communicate better and experience other benefits like increased levels of oxytocin, which can reduce inflammation."

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