Millennials Have More "Sleep Divorces" Than Any Other Generation
Millennials represented the largest share of sleep divorcees, by far, for any generation surveyed — and it seems to be working for them.
A good night’s sleep can solve all (okay, maybe just most) of your problems. Despite that basic fact, so many of us — especially parents — struggle to get enough sleep, or enough quality sleep, when sharing a bed with a partner. Forty-three percent of Millennials, however, seem to have fixed their bad nights of sleep with the “sleep divorce,” according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).
“Although the term ‘sleep divorce’ seems harsh, it really just means that people are prioritizing sleep and moving into a separate room at night when needed,” said Dr. Seema Khosla, pulmonologist and spokesperson for the AASM.
Millennials represented the largest share of sleep divorcees, by far, for any generation surveyed, with nearly half responding that they “occasionally or consistently sleep in another room to accommodate a bed partner.” One-third of Gen Xers said that they also occasionally or consistently sleep apart from their partner, while 27% of Gen Z and 22% of Baby Boomers do the same. Over a third of respondents in total said they sleep separately from their partner.
Prioritizing sleep matters. New parents of infants often sleep in separate beds if one parent is on night duty — Carson Daly famously revealed he and his wife started their own sleep divorce when she was in her third trimester of pregnancy, and because he uses a sleep apnea machine. For many, it functionally saves their marriage — and there’s little wondering why.
“Sleep is foundational to our overall health and wellness, and sharing a bed with someone who moves a lot, snores, or is otherwise disruptive to your sleep is detrimental to that critical time where your brain and body are restoring themselves,” licensed marriage and family therapist Laurel Roberts-Meese previously told Fatherly. In fact, she noted, that forcing yourself to sleep in the same bed because you’re afraid it would harm your relationship may have the opposite effect and hurt your relationship regardless.
But why are Millennials, in particular, so pro-sleep divorce? And is it working for them? Well, maybe. Millennials are far less likely to get married than older generations, and they’re getting married later than ever. But, significantly, the data suggests they’re staying together longer when they do pull the trigger, as reported by Cosmopolitan in 2019. And since more Millennials than ever are likely to cohabitate before marriage or in lieu of marriage, per a 2020 Pew Research Center report, they’ve arguably had the most opportunity to experiment with things in the bedroom that are, well, not just about intimacy.
After all, consider what all respondents said they would do to make sleeping in the same room easier aside from a sleep divorce: 21% of Millennials use earplugs; 26% use eye masks; 40% go to sleep “at an earlier or later time than desired” to accommodate their partner; and 23% use a silent alarm. They do these things more than their Gen X, Boomer, or Silent Generation counterparts, and at higher than average rates.
To read the full survey results, head to AASM.