Decisions come and go in our lives. So it can be difficult to recognise that what seems to be an insignificant decision, is anything but.
My insignificant decision came when my husband and I (boyfriend at the time) took ourselves off to separate bedrooms one week after he moved into my house. Not because we didn’t like each other – because we couldn’t share a bed and get enough sleep to function the next day. I didn’t think for one second our separate sleeping would lead me on a quest to be a voice for thousands of people I didn’t know.
Over years of sharing our sleeping arrangements, I developed a fascination for the responses borne out of conversations. Enthusiastic camaraderie from fellow liberated folk, endless curiosity from those whose inquisitive natures had been piqued, indifference from people who found my sleeping arrangements a big yawn, and then the group of people who stoked a fire of indignation in my belly.
It was this group of people – and I must confess it was, and still is, predominantly women – who were desperate to sleep alone because night after night, their partner robbed them of sleep, but they felt they didn’t have a choice but to lie in bed and accept their lot. Why? They either had a partner who wouldn’t consider separate sleeping because ‘that’s not what couples do’, or they were afraid that their relationship would be judged as inferior or a failure because they didn’t share a bed with their husband/wife/partner.
My self-righteous streak has, and always will, struggle to comprehend how anyone can feel they can’t prioritise their health over a selfish partner or an illogical social construct. Fuelled by a need to respond, I wrote a book to challenge the illogical proposition that says ‘separate beds = relationship failure’ and became the author of ‘Sleeping Apart not Falling Apart’.
Since publishing in 2013 I’ve been ready to bust myths, give a voice to the sleep deprived, and be heralded as the saviour of the strung out masses, who are in love, but ready to kill their snoring loved one.
While I haven’t created the sleeping revolution of a magnitude my early, innocent enthusiasm predicted, I continue to be the voice of separate sleepers in as many forums as possible across the globe and I am happy to have that role. Recently I spent the afternoon in Montreal with a Canadian film maker who is producing a documentary called Apartners. Like me, she is passionate about couples charting their own course in life and finding a way to navigate the challenge that is an intimate relationship.
If anyone had told me back in 2005 that a tough decision based around not feeling tired each day would lead me to be the ‘separate sleeping’ expert, I would have laughed loudly. Now, I’m proud to have the title and look forward to continuing to be the voice of reasoned sleep for all the tired folk.