7.10.2008

The Opposite of Co-Sleeping

If co-sleeping means having everyone together in a big family bed, snuggled warm and close, what's the word for everyone sleeping separately in their own beds, with their own night-time sleep preferences (white noise v. quiet, sheets tucked in v. loose, cat on the bed v. not) intact and not disturbing the other sleepers?

Well-rested?

In our house, we all have our own room and bed for sleeping. We have four bedrooms, and each child is in their own room, Kirby's in the guest room with a loud fan and the cat, and I'm in the master bedroom, quiet and peaceful. Kirby and I each have a monitor so we can hear our assigned sleeping child if they should wake up crying or roll off the bed or whatever. Him, so he can hear it over the fan (and he's a heavy sleeper), and me, because I'm down the hall from Ada's room and might not hear her if she woke up.

I'm getting better nights of sleep now than at any other time previously in our marriage. And you know what? It's good for our family. It's good for me as a parent to be well-rested. It's good for our marriage that Kirby doesn't have the guilt, and me the frustration, of being woken up multiple times in the middle of the night by his kicking his legs during a vivid dream, or coughing from allergies, or turning on the bathroom light for a nighttime call from nature. I'm a very light sleeper, so having kids or animals in the bed is out off the question. I adjusted once during college when I lived in a dorm room that was just off of the main stairwell. I learned to sleep through loud students coming and going at all hours, some coming back from too many drinks and making way too much noise at a really cruel hour. I got used to it and slept. But I guess I'm too old for this now. And sleep is more important than ever, because it's so precious when it's so hard to come by.

I think there are studies out there - outdated studies - that cast sleeping in separate bedrooms as a marital red flag. I don't think that's a judgement that can be made across the board for all situations. Sleeping in the same bed is just a small part of the whole picture of marital intimacy. And if sleeping in separate bedrooms is the only means of getting a good night's sleep without interfering with each other's sleep habits, then it seems there may be more good than bad to it. Including for the health of the marriage.

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