I am not a good bed partner. Well, maybe I should say that I have never been a good sleeping partner. I need full and absolute possession of the bed. I move, I squirm, I sigh and sometimes, I am told, I even snore.
I dream a lot. I wake up early and often during the night. I ponder the universe. I get my most inspired thoughts looking out of the window into the dark night. I have a spurt of inspiration and dash to my studio to paint… or write. I watch Steven Colbert and enjoy the occasional late movie.
I used to leave at least four books on the empty part of my large bed plus The New York Times, but now that I read on Kindle, my bed is a little less cluttered. I get cold and want the duvet to cover me snuggly with no pulling from bed partners. I get hot and want the a/c on full blast. The only cold feet I tolerate in bed with me are my own.
Maybe my conviction that sleeping alone is a good thing was triggered by years of pregnancy, postnatal adjustments, and breastfeeding.
Nappy changes in the middle of the night, lullabies, and storytelling to calm a little one who had climbed into my bed after a scary dream, and a multitude of childhood illnesses which usually required a pilgrimage to mom and dad’s room and the comfort of a warm body next to theirs.
With a bed full of people wiggling around finding their own sleeping comfort, I was often the one to quietly and unobtrusively grab a pillow and a blanket, slide out and tiptoe to another room leaving my blissfully asleep husband and child and sometimes even the dog, to take possession of the entire bed.
Now my circumstances have changed, and I do sleep alone. As a widow with four grown kids and even more grandchildren all living abroad or in other states, my own personal bed is one of the most comforting and comfortable pieces of furniture in my entire house.
I adore the times when the kids visit, but nobody would dare suggest sleeping with me as my children know my preference and have instructed the little ones that “Abu (Spanish for Abuela) will give you permission to hang out in her bed and watch TV in her room, but she prefers to sleep alone.” It is quite clear.
I remember watching those old English movies where couples retired to their own separate quarters when they called it a night. At the time I thought this strange custom cold, uncaring, and certainly not sexy. Then I grew up and realized that having my own space made a lot of sense.
My husband preferred to start his uninterrupted beauty sleep much earlier than me, and I would still be checking emails or playing a last game of backgammon online. He did not read in bed, and I’ve never been able to settle down without reading that last chapter.
I would often have sudden inspiration and must start an article or make some sketches for a painting I plan to start in the morning. And of course, there’s the small matter of hogging the blanket and the fact that his snoring disturbed my precarious sleep.
Without totally surrendering my rightful place in our marital bed, I re-decorated another room in the house to my personal taste and fled to it when sleeping was impossible. There was intent and it was not a secret or something that I was ashamed of.
My bonus room was a practical solution that I was happy to retreat to when necessary. Sleep is always precious but when one ages, it becomes indispensable.
Mind you, sleeping alone should never interfere with lovemaking. Au contraire. I much prefer a loving partner as a neighbor in a bedroom nearby than someone I resent in my own bed.
Visiting or receiving a visit from a lover is still the stuff that fantasies are made of, and I would much rather look forward to that than to be the object of affection for the simple reason that I happen to be in the bed and therefore deemed interested and available.
Automatic responses to a bit of bare skin certainly do not turn me on. In my experience, separate sleeping encourages a more determined approach to the matter of lovemaking.
Familiarity breeds routine – and we all know how exciting that can be. And yes, I do love to cuddle, but cuddling and sleeping through the night are not compatible all the time. When it’s time to sleep, I prefer splendid isolation.
It turns out the British were more practical and sexier than I initially thought. Only they could have come up with this delightful idea. When I watch those movies now, I realize how very sexy it is to retire to one’s own bedroom and perhaps pay or receive a visit with more than sleep in mind.
How do you feel about sleeping alone? Have you tried doing it on purpose or do you prefer to sleep in the same bed as your partner? Please share your thoughts with our community!
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