Were the Vanderbilts Right?

I'm sure many of you have oohed and aahed your way through the mansions in Newport along the cliff walk.  It is astonishing to see the opulence and amenities that people would have.  I was as amazed at the variety of shoe brushes for every kind of shoe to the lemon squeezer that was mounted by the sink. One thing that I noticed was that Mr. Vanderbilt would have a separate bedroom from Mrs. Vanderbilt with a connecting hallway.  That way they could have midnight snuggling visits or sleep on their own.  Now most couples would never think of sleeping in separate beds let alone separate bedrooms!

But I would like to suggest that this isn't such a bad idea.  I can't tell you the number of people who come in to see me for insomnia.  Want to know the biggest reason they tell me?  Something to do with their partner - snoring, tossing and turning, needing to sleep with a window open, needing to sleep with the window closed, firm mattress, soft mattress, television on, television off, night light, no light, cell phone at the ready, ear plugs, wanting to sleep with their cat, dog, iguana...  Even Lord Grantham has his dressing room bedroom when he isn't sleeping with Lady Grantham (his wife, not his mother).  

In other words, our sleep habits are rarely in tune.  So inevitably one or the other lives a life of disturbed sleep.  And it may not be all the time.  What if your partner has a terrible cold and needs a vaporizer, four boxes of kleenex and has a coughing fit every hour?  What if your partner is under a lot of stress and they're talking in their sleep or bashing you in the head when they flip their arms around?  What if the much-loved pet has fleas?

The truth is that much of our health is determined by the quality of our sleep.  You also may have noticed that any symptoms that you experience when ill become significantly worse during the night.  So just when you are in your restorative phase of your day (while sleeping), you are being exposed to illness at a very close range.  In fact, the biggest reason that families pass illness around like a hot potato is because of their sleeping arrangements.

Now I'm not advocating always remaining alone on your pillow, but I am suggesting that when you are under stress, ill, or just need a good night's sleep, consider having an extra room that you can sleep in.  On the other side of the bed, if you know that you are snoring and it disturbs your partner, or if you insist on having a refrigerator room while your partner loves the tropics, then think about separate rooms that link together.  Adjustable mattresses may help a couple to have their own firmness setting, but it won't stop your partner from kicking you just when you were at the good part of the dream.