Five million couples choose a 'sleep separation'

  • Five million UK couples choose to sleep in separate beds to improve their sleep
  • Over 30 million Brits who share a bed with their partner struggle to sleep
  • Half of those (55 per cent) that share a bed with their partner would consider a sleep separation – sleeping in separate beds

New research from Direct Line Life Insurance’s1 Need for Sleep campaign has revealed that five million people in relationships (12 per cent) have chosen a ‘sleep separation’, where they sleep in separate beds to improve the quality of their sleep. This is perhaps because the majority of those who share a bed (72 per cent) admit that their quality of sleep is impacted by their bedfellow.

Around a third experience sleep disruption due to their partner snoring (32 per cent), while a fifth (21 per cent) find themselves woken up at an inconvenient time due to their partner’s lifestyle or sleep schedule. Despite these figures, just 7.2 million people (17 per cent) believe that they in turn negatively impact their partner’s sleep, probably a misconception.

Despite the benefits of sleeping separately and getting a good night’s sleep, there are a number of Brits in relationships who would not consider sleeping in separate beds.

Nearly two fifths (41 per cent) of those who would not do so believe that sleeping separately would negatively impact their relationship, while over a quarter (28 per cent) are worried it would become a permanent solution.  

Table one: Reasons why couples wouldn’t consider sleeping in a separate room or bed from their partner to improve their sleep



Number of UK adults

I feel it would negatively impact our relationship

41 per cent

9.4 million

I would be worried it would become a permanent solution

28 per cent

6.5 million

My relationship is more important than my sleep

26 per cent

6 million

I wouldn’t want our children to think something was wrong

Eight per cent

1.8 million

I would feel judged by others if they found out

Five per cent

1.2 million


Two per cent


Source: Direct Line Life Insurance 2022

Direct Line Life Insurance’s ‘Need for Sleep’ campaign has highlighted that the UK is sleep walking into a health crisis, with 37 million people not getting the recommended seven to nine hours2 of sleep at night. With couples struggling to sleep whilst sharing a bed, the research has shown that less than seven hours a night has been associated with a range of adverse health outcomes3 – increased heart problems4, and chronic diseases such as diabetes5 and dementia6.

Dr Holly Milling, Registered Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Sleep Practice, said: “Couples are under a lot of societal pressure to sleep in the same bed and many fear that if they choose not to bedshare it will lead to a less intimate relationship. While it's true that couples who sleep together harmoniously can report greater emotional and intimate connection, when precious sleep becomes disrupted by a partner, it can have the opposite effect, raising feelings of resentment and all the consequences of sleep deprivation in the disturbed party. The goal is to find what works best for you and your partner in your current situation.”

Vincent Guadagnino, Communications Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “Sleep is hugely important to our overall health, both physically and mentally. It is often something we neglect to address but it is extremely important that people do discuss these issues. There are a range of methods to help people ensure they get a good night’s rest, which can have an overall impact on our everyday lives. We would encourage people to explore their options and make sure the way they sleep is right for them and their loved one, rather than thinking about how it looks to others.”

If you or your partner are worried that you may be disrupting each other’s sleep, Dr Holly Milling suggests trying the following:

1.       Talk to your partner about your sleep and how you’re both feeling. Give each other permission to be honest about how easy you are each finding it to get a healthy, restorative night's sleep. 

2.       Explore your beliefs about whether you should or shouldn’t share a bed every night. Where do those beliefs come from? Remember, it’s actually quite a modern idea that couples should sleep in the same bed every night.

3.       If you’ve identified any challenges, it’s time to problem solve together. Remember, sleep is not a one size fits all and the task is to find a solution that meets both of your needs.  Sleep disturbance within a partnership doesn’t mean you have to resort to completely separate sleeping environments. For example, if you are constantly being disturbed by your partner stealing the duvet, it could be as simple as sharing the same bed but having a separate duvet each.

4.       If your partner is showing signs of a sleep disorder (some examples include insomnia, loud snoring, moving around a lot at night, repeated nightmares), speak to your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist for individualised advice, treatment, and support.

For further information please visit

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1.    Omnibus research commissioned among 2,000 UK adults between 10th – 13th May 2022

2.       Omnibus research commissioned among 4,003 UK adults between 13th – 18th October 2021




6.        Association of sleep duration in middle and old age with incidence of dementia. Sabia S, Fayosse A, Dumurgier J, van Hees VT, Paquet C, Sommerlad A, Kivimäki M, Dugravot A, Singh-Manoux A. Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 20;12(1):2289. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22354-2. PMID: 33879784

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler

Deputy Head of News and Issues – Direct Line Group

[email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, pet and life insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line life insurance policies are underwritten by AIG, part of the American International Group UK Limited, registered office: The AIG Building, 58 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4AB. American International Group UK Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN number 781109. You can check the FCA register at or call the FCA on 0800 111 6768.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0800 077 8297 or visiting

About Dr Holly Milling and The Sleep Practice

Founded by Dr Holly Milling B.Sc., M.Sc., DClinPsy., PG.Dip, The Sleep Practice is a leading UK sleep practice. Dr Milling supports individuals and organisations to achieve healthy sleep using evidence-based clinics, training and an industry leading sleep coaching programme.

Find out more at or get in touch at [email protected]