Remember the vows we took when we got married? I’d like to propose that we consider rewriting a portion of them to read: “…in sickness and in health, until separate beds do us part.”

I say this because for a majority of graying couples the time comes when it is no longer mind over matter, but mind over mattress.

My first husband “Big Bill” and my now husband “Delicious Dan” and I have lived through times when each other’s sleeping patterns, noises, thrashings about or habits simply became untenable. 

Research shows that 46 percent of couples that sleep apart do so because of snoring. I’ve had times when I thought to myself: I’d like him to sleep far enough away so I can’t hear him — somewhere like Nevada!  

The second most common cause for sleeping apart is because of illness. It’s a better situation for both the patient and the caretaker because each needs as much undisturbed rest as possible.

The third most common reason: arguments. Remember Phyllis Diller‘s joke? “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” 

Another reason may be one partner stars in their own nightly music video, “Once, Twice, Three (or More) Times…to the Potty.”

Ever been with a partner who has restless leg syndrome or neuropathy? If you haven’t, it feels you’ve turned into a professional kick boxer’s training bag!

Then there’s the couple that can’t agree on the temperature. She thinks that she married “a portable heating unit that snores,” as one comedian called her husband, and he swears that she’s had cold feet since their wedding day.

Or one of you might be among the 90 percent of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers who don’t know it.  

Remember that sleep disorders do not disappear without treatment in some form: surgery, medication, behavior modification or any number of prescriptive or over-the-counter devices. 

If it’s any comfort, older couples sleeping apart is far from uncommon.  

The National Sleep Foundation calculates that about a quarter of Americans in a relationship sleep apart most every night, and 95 percent of those are 60 and older.

By the way, remember the Rob and Laura Petrie arrangement? It’s gone the way of the black and white sitcom: less than 2 percent of those surveyed opted for separate beds, same room. 

Deciding to sleep apart is not without complications. There’s the guilt, abandonment issues and a decrease in intimacy.  

It’s also being paranoid that other people are thinking, “…if they’re not sleeping together does that mean they’re not, you know, sleeping together?”  

It’s not like a couple that sleeps apart is in separate cellblocks with no visitation rights. You can still cuddle, comingle and Ted Koppel-ate together. It’s just that when you’re ready to sleep, you kiss, say goodnight and go to your own bed.

So right now you may be saying, “What kind of person sleeps in a separate bedroom from their life partner?”  

Take it from me, a rested and rejuvenated one!

Until next time…keep thinking the good thoughts.

— For more than 30 years, Rona Barrett was a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer. Since 2000, she has focused her attention and career on the growing crisis of housing and support for our aging population. She is the founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, the catalyst behind Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable senior housing, the Golden Inn & Village. Contact her at The opinions expressed are her own.