Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Singles Sleep Better

It's National Singles Week! Happy holidays to all you Singletude readers and to the 96 million Americans who live without the help (or hindrance) of a spouse every day and are just as happy, healthy, and wise as their coupled counterparts! A special shout out to those who are not just unmarried but unattached, standing totally on their own, since we know that discrimination against singles is social as often as legal.

In honor of National Singles Week, Singletude is holding its first ever giveaway contest! The drawing is quickly approaching on 9/28, so make sure your entries are in by 9/27. The prize is a gift basket overflowing with more than $150 in prizes sponsored by, so hurry and submit your entry before time runs out. Now, on to today's topic...

If you've been single for awhile, the days of sharing your bed may be like a distant dream or, more accurately, a distant nightmare. Ah, yes, now it all comes back to you! Tossing and turning while your bedmate's snore drowns all but the sound of your teeth grinding in the dark. Quivering in the frigid night air as you cling to the four square inches of blanket that your beloved spared you. Rousing from your happy place again so you can make way for your honey to reach the lamp, the tissues, the water, or the slippers. Jerking awake as your sweetheart's alarm blasts the robins right out of the trees outside. Stumbling out of bed on jello limbs that lost their circulation beneath someone else's butt, your shoulder cradling your neck, which can't stand up straight after eight hours wedged over someone else's arm. You call it "The Quasimodo in the Morning Show."

A couple of weeks ago, a commenter called Autonomous on the blog Onely directed readers to a BBC News article entitled "Bed Sharing 'Bad for Your Health.'" The article reports on research by Dr. Neil Stanley of the U.K., who found that sleeping with someone (in the literal sense) increases sleep disturbances by 50%. This makes sense, he says, because our ancestors only recently traded their single straw mats for cushy queen-size mattresses. We weren't really meant to sleep together at all! So, presumably, the single state confers a great advantage in the bedroom that most couples miss out on. This advantage has far-reaching effects, too. As the article notes, sleep problems are associated with heart disease, stroke, depression, and, yes, even divorce, among other potentially fatal consequences. So...does this mean we can say that singles are healthier than marrieds?

If so, the media doesn't want us to know about it. While the major news outlets are all too happy to showcase studies claiming that married women sleep better than singles or that married couples have lower blood pressure during sleep, they're less eager to report findings that indicate singles might be better off. Besides the Huffington Post, no prominent American news site featured Stanley's research even though it's not unheard of for American news shows, papers, and web sites to run stories on medical breakthroughs in the international community. If Autonomous hadn't spotted it, I would've missed it altogether. My Google newsreader didn't pick it up, and, to my knowledge, it didn't make the rounds of hub sites where it might've caught the eyes of readers checking their email or the daily forecast. So why no love for this story from the American media? Is it possible that the powers that be in the U.S. want to suppress research that doesn't cast marriage or intensive coupling traditions in a flattering light? Research that indicates remaining single can be not only as healthy as but healthier than pairing off?

British sociologist Dr. Robert Meadows was also quoted in the article as saying, "People actually feel that they sleep better with a partner, but the evidence suggests otherwise." Years of drumming biased headlines into people's sleepy heads have obviously hypnotized them to believe that significant others glued to their sides are always better for their health, even when their own bodies scream otherwise in the morning. The article states that a mere 8% of forty- and fiftysomething couples sleep alone. (Statistics for other ages weren't recorded.) The other 92% apparently suffer through night after night of disrupted sleep. And for what? The perception that couples should sleep side by side because they must never be apart? Are we so entrapped by The Cult of the Couple that we would sacrifice our rest and ultimately our health because society dictates that those who have sex together must sleep together?

Undoubtedly, some people enjoy whispering in the dark, drifting off to sleep in another's arms, rolling over into a warm, inviting body on a cold night. But just as undoubtedly there are people who would always or at least sometimes prefer "to have a cuddle and then...toddle off down the landing," as Stanley puts it. If this study is accurate, most of them, like it or not, will share their beds anyway.

Luckily, we singles don't have to lose sleep over matrimaniacally approved sleeping habits! During National Singles Week, as on every night, we get to...

...decide when bedtime is.
...indulge in whatever bedtime rituals we prefer such as reading, watching TV, or having a hot drink.
...choose what goes into and what stays out of the bed including food, books, laptops, phones, pillows, blankets, real animals, and animals of the stuffed variety.
...adjust sleeping conditions like temperature, amount of light, and background noise as needed.
...sleep anywhere in the bed in any position, occupying as much space as desired.
...sleep through the whole night completely undisturbed by another human being.
...decide when to wake up and what to wake up to, whether an alarm, music, cell phone, TV, dog or cat, morning songbirds, or pure silence.

On that note, I think I'll turn in early!

Do you prefer to sleep by yourself or with someone else? Why? Have you ever had trouble sleeping with someone else? If so, why? What things do you like about sleeping alone? Did you know about the British sleep study before you read about it here? If so, where did you hear about it? Why do you think the media didn't publicize this study as much as some others that promote marriage and/or diminish singles?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have an unpublished rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a "Singletude Q&A" or your rant or rave in a "Singletude Sound-off"! Singletude makes every effort to republish submissions in their original form but reserves the right to edit your submission for length and clarity.


ken said...

Happy singles week to me and especially to all
Filipina singles there!!!
Hope i can meet you guys...LOL

Anonymous said...

I like doing all those things in bed with a live human in there too

Clever Elsie said...

Ken: Thanks for stopping by at Singletude! Hope you did something fun for National Singles Week!

Secretia: Hi, and thanks for visiting Singletude. I'm glad your live human is accommodating enough to let you do all those things exactly the way you want without having to make any sacrifices or compromises. ;)

Tina T said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog Elise. Even though I'm an old married lady, I still remember facing a lot of discrimination when I was single. I wish there were all these positive articles about being single back then. Any stage of your life where you are happy should be celebrated whether you are single or attached.

The Singlutionary said...

I was just talking about this today! I can NOT sleep well with another person in the bed. Unless I've been doped up in some way. I just can't do it. I hate it. This is why none of my relationships last very long. I end up getting pissed off and trying to sleep on the sofa or I end up driving home. Then he wake up all refreshed and wonders what the hell is wrong with me.

Then we break up.

I love sleeping alone. In big beds.

Bella said...

Thanks for this! I mentioned it here:



Thanks for sharing this! All too often, we hear people talk about how bad it is to sleep alone when it could just be the other way around! I can't sleep when it's noisy or when it's too dark or too bright in the room. I also find it hard to sleep when the room is not cozy enough or when it's too hot on the other hand.

Clever Elsie said...

Tina T: Hi! Thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement.

Singlutionary: I'm right there with you! It's so hard adjusting to someone else's sleep habits, and--let's face it--guys in particular can be really noisy and sprawly. To be fair, some people sleep really, really peacefully. I've counted myself very lucky when dating them! But others...Well, I never really have been able to get used to chronic snorers.

Bella: Thank you so much for the mention! That's great!

I Take Off the Mask: Hi! Welcome to Singletude! (This is your first time here, right?) Yep, I'm a somewhat picky sleeper, too. I seldom feel lonely at night. If I ever do, I just remember that I'm sacrificing about 30 minutes of snuggling in someone's arms so I can get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Hmmmm. Not such a hard choice when you think of it that way!