My Husband and I Built One of the Most Successful Sleep Companies in America. Here’s Why We Got a ‘Sleep Divorce’
As the CEO of Hatch, my mission is to help families sleep better. And so it surprises people when they find out that I’ve been a great sleeper for most of my life. Typically, I can snooze anywhere -- on an airplane, on a train, or lying down on the floor. That said, I experienced some pretty intense sleep issues in the stressful and pressure-packed stages of growing this company. So I deeply understand and empathize with people with sleep problems.
My husband Dave is one of them. He’s a terrible sleeper -- he really, really struggles -- and he’s very easily disturbed during the night. Seeing his struggle made us realize what a big opportunity the sleep space was, not just for us as a family but also for the world, and it’s a big part of why we co-founded Hatch together in 2014.
I found that when your partner has a sleep problem, it really affects you, too. When Dave and I were sleeping in the same bed, I found myself always worrying about accidentally waking him up. If I rolled over in bed or went to bed later than he did, would I disturb his hard-won sleep? Often we’d start the night together and then one of us -- usually Dave -- would throw in the towel and move to the couch to get some shuteye.
Eventually, we felt the pros of sleeping together did not outweigh the cons of sharing a bed. So we officially separated our sleeping arrangements -- something that’s now dubbed a “sleep divorce.” It’s not just us but a growing trend. A new survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that one-third of people say that they occasionally or consistently sleep in another room from their partner. And hey, even Cameron Diaz is doing it!
Here’s what our nights look like now: We spend our evenings together winding down in my bedroom. I might read and he might play chess on his phone. We might talk about our day. This pre-bedtime routine gives us time for some extra connection. After we say goodnight, he goes to his room, and I stay in mine. I feel like we get all the goodness of being together with the added benefit of getting our best sleep. We love this arrangement.
But we didn’t decide on this arrangement overnight. For a while, on the occasional really bad night when we were incompatible sleepers, we’d sleep apart. He’d head to his office where we’d set up an extra bed. He’d get his sleep, I’d get mine, and we’d wake up feeling good about our choice.
So what started as an every-once-in-a-while solution for especially hard nights quickly became an intentional conversation about how to stay connected and sleep full nights on our own.
We were lucky that we’ve always been very proactive in our communication together. We’re both in individual therapy and couples therapy, not because our marriage is in trouble but because it helps us to be open about our wants, needs, and motivations, including when it comes to sleep. I think this has been critical to our sleep divorce success. Without that clear communication, it would be so easy for feelings to get hurt. Your mind can create a negative story about why your partner slept in another room that has no bearing on why they really did it.
This is not something we ever want in our marriage, so the topic of how we’ve navigated sleep as a couple isn’t one we shy away from, including with our family. We have three kids ranging in age from 11 to 20, and we are open with them about how this works for us. We talk about this with our friends. We make sure that people understand that this can be a healthy thing for a relationship and increase connectivity.
I love it when people defy convention and make the best choice for themselves. So many people will say that to have a good marriage you need to share the same bed, but for us to have a good marriage, we need to not share a bed.
We’re also fortunate that we have an available room for Dave to sleep in, but it wasn’t always that way. To make sleeping together better when we had to stay in the same room, we wore earplugs and sleep masks to block out noise and light. We loved using our Restore for white noise, too, and we still do today.
Another perk of being apart: I get to use my favorite bedtime ritual, which is to listen to Pillow Talk, a new audio channel we’ve just released. I turn on my favorite shows “It’s Crime for Bed” or “i’ll scroll 4 u,” and I can fall asleep listening to an episode without worrying about waking up Dave. He’s already comfortable in his room. We’ll (happily) see each other tomorrow.