A quarter of married couples say they sleep in separate beds just to get a good night sleep.
“I can't deal with this anymore! I can't sleep!” says Nancy, from Michigan.
“It usually turns out someone stomping out to the couch!” says Gina, from New Jersey.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, reporting: I'm embarrassed to admit. I often move to a different room.”
“She says I disrupt her sleep. I snore,” says my husband, Rob.
It causes me to wake up from my sleep three or four times a night.
Even though we're both doctors, we have long laughed and debated what's really going on, so we called in professional help, sleep researcher Dr. Wendy Troxel.
“What's your goal here?” asks Dr. Troxel. I would like to sleep next to my husband every single night.
She put us to the test, measuring our brain activity while we slept.
Dr. Ashton: “The sleep study will confirm scientifically that rob's snoring disrupts my sleep.”
The first night, side-by-side…snoring woke me up.
With Rob, I had 173 awakenings, which is sleep science lingo for coming out of deep sleep. The next night couldn't come soon enough.
Dr. Ashton: “I get to sleep by myself.”
But, to my great suprise: alone, I had 135 awakeningsnearly as many as when I slept with Rob.
“There was a link between Rob's snoring and you having these little awakenings from sleep, but it wasn't all Rob's fault. You continued to have awakenings throughout the night, even when Rob had stopped snoring.”
That's because science confirms women are lighter sleepers than men. Biologically, our brains are conditioned to just wake up, but the good news is women are better sleepers than men and quickly fall back to sleep again.
But, Dr. Troxel says the bad news for women is we often think we sleep worse than we really do. I was proof, the study actually showed my overall sleep quality was actually excellent both nights.
“Your sleep when you were sleeping with Rob, compared to the night you were sleeping alone, was virtually identical,” Dr. Troxel says.
But for Rob…a bigger impact…he got an extra twenty minutes of deep sleep with me by his side.
“So, I am telling you there is actually health benefits, at least for Rob, to sleeping with you,” says Dr. Troxel. “Now, I feel really guilty,” I said.
Because research shows that men sleep better with a partner than alone…and protecting sleep, for both of us, means protecting our marriage.
Doctors say it's important to rule out medical causes for snoring and insomnia, like sleep apnea. But, they say making sleep a priority is important for good health and your marriage.