Benefits of a sleep divorce as Brian Cox divulges 'secret' to good marriage

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: (L-R) Nicole Ansari-Cox and Brian Cox attend the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Brian Cox revealed the secret that makes his marriage to Nicole Ansari-Cox work. (Getty Images)

Brian Cox has revealed his "secret" to a successful marriage - separate bedrooms, he says, are key.

The Succession star, who has been married to his third wife Nicole Ansari-Cox since 2002, was asked in a new interview with The Times how to maintain a good marriage.

Having learned from his first two marriages, Cox said: "Separate bedrooms. You visit one another. Your partner must feel free."

He was previously married to Lilian Monroe-Carr, from 1966 to 1967, and later to Caroline Burt from 1968 to 1986.

The Golden Globe Award winner joins Cameron Diaz in advocating for couples sleeping in separate bedrooms - a phenomenon known as a 'sleep divorce'.

The Charlie's Angels actor said couples should 'normalise' separate bedrooms, adding that she would even go as far to have a separate house and have a 'family house' in the middle.

Cameron Diaz has said couples should normalise 'sleep divorce', or separate bedrooms. (Getty Images)
Cameron Diaz has said couples should normalise 'sleep divorce', or separate bedrooms. (Getty Images)

"We should normalise separate bedrooms," she said in an appearance on the podcast Lipstick on the Rim, when one of the hosts said her partner snores.

"To me, I would [say]... I have my house, you have yours. We have the family house in the middle. I will go and sleep in my room. You go sleep in your room. I’m fine. And we have the bedroom in the middle that we can convene in for our relations."

Diaz, who has been married to Good Charlotte musician Benji Madden since 2015, added that it's not the first time she's made this claim, but it's not something she herself is planning.

"By the way, I don’t feel that way now because my husband is so wonderful. I said that before I got married," she clarified.

The idea of a 'sleep divorce' is not a new concept. When you share a bed with a problem-sleeper – whether they snore, kick, talk, or hinder a good night’s rest in any other way – your mood and energy levels can plummet.

Turns out one in six couples always sleep in separate beds to their other half, while half have done a bed hop away from their partner at some point.

Snoring (71%) is the top cause of the slumber separation, followed by fidgeting (35%) and constant waking during the night (30%).

When sleeping in the same bed, 23% of couples say they get less than five hours of undisturbed sleep each night, while 16% say they rarely feel well-rested when sharing a bed.

The overall outcome of the study, commissioned by Samsung, was that a resounding quarter 24% of couples don't think they are "sleep compatible" with one another.

So how do we manage to alleviate these night-time disputes and get back to having a good night's sleep?

It seems, the recommendation could be breaking up with your partner, at least while you're trying to get some shut-eye, that is.

"You should always sleep alone," says NHS doctor Dr Karan Rajan in his now-viral TikTok video. "If the other person moves around in their sleep or snores, that will stop you from getting into the deep stages of sleep your body needs to recharge, affecting sleep quality.

Is getting a 'sleep divorce' the key to a healthy relationship? (Getty)
Is getting a 'sleep divorce' the key to a healthy relationship? (Getty)

"Not everyone shares the same sleep cycles, so forcing two people to share a bedtime will leave one or both chronically sleep deprived. One of the triggers you need to fall asleep is a drop in core body temperature. Sharing a bed with someone increases body heat so it will take longer to fall asleep."

So what is a 'sleep divorce' and how can it affect a relationship?

"Sleep divorce is the term used to describe two partners who co-sleep then make the choice to sleep in separate beds, and in some cases separate rooms," Counselling Directory member and sex therapist, Rebecca Harrison previously told Yahoo UK.

The benefits of this will differ depending on the partners; but the main reason people opt for a sleep divorce is that it improves quality of sleep.

"It's worth stating that the term 'sleep divorce' is loaded; the word 'divorce' seems to imply that sleeping apart is equivalent to ending the relationship, which it absolutely isn't. It also implies that there's a permanence to the arrangement – whereas you can sleep apart and sleep together whenever you like."

Watch: How to improve your sleep

The way a sleep divorce affects a relationship is as unique as the relationship itself. Harrison notes that the main concern from critics is that sleeping in a separate bedroom from your partner can limit the chances for spontaneous sexual intimacy.

"If these forms of intimacy feature in your morning or night-time routine, then it's worth having a conversation about how you're going to maintain these forms of intimacy once you are sleeping apart," she adds.

It’s also worth noting that a sleep divorce isn’t possible for everyone. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of having an extra room to sleep in and, while a sofa is always an option, it’s certainly not a permanent solution.

There can be many benefits to a sleep divorce. (Getty Images)
There can be many benefits to a sleep divorce. (Getty Images)

Is a sleep divorce right for you?

Before deciding to sleep apart, Harrison says it’s worth having a conversation with your partner about whether a sleep divorce would have a positive or negative impact on your relationship.

"As a sex therapist, I'd be interested in what could be behind the term 'problem sleeper'. Is there an aspect of the relationship that isn't working for someone? Is it a desire for more privacy or alone time? How does each partner feel about sexual and non-sexual intimacy in the relationship, and would sleeping apart have a positive or negative impact on this?" Harrison adds.

"But if each partner wants to sleep apart, and that desire is coming from a healthy place, why not? If everyone in the relationship enthusiastically consents to the arrangement, then it's right for you. Sleep apart, sleep together, sleep wherever you like – it's your relationship."

Additional reporting SWNS.

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