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Separate Beds Can Bring Couples Closer

If you or your spouse are suffering restless nights, consider sleeping apart

Anne is not alone. Estimates vary, but authorities agree that men sleep out loud considerably more than premenopausal women. Once women become menopausal, they become more likely to snore, but men still snore more.

Of course, men are not the only sleep villains. During the years-long menopausal transition, many women feel uncomfortably hot at night and kick off the covers, leaving the men in their lives shivering — and sometimes decamping for the guest bed.

In addition, as people get older, they usually sleep less soundly and become more particular about the required conditions for restful sleep. Some need total darkness or silence or the warmth of a down comforter. Others need a window open, a cool breeze and a light blanket. If your needs seriously clash, it might be time for separate bedrooms.

Chances are you know couples who sleep separately, but few talk about it for fear of teasing. My humble suggestion: Give it a try. If you can't sleep comfortably with the one you love, don't. Sleeping apart may not be what you envisioned when you said, "I do," but if your sleep needs are incompatible, you'll feel better rested and happier in separate beds or bedrooms — and you'll probably feel more loving and enjoy sex more, too.

Finally, if snoring is the issue, before you abandon your noisy bedmate, listen carefully. Loud snoring punctuated by choking silences is a classic sign of obstructive sleep apnea. "Apnea" means not breathing. It's snoring that sucks the airway closed, which reduces oxygen in the blood and raises risk of heart attack and stroke. If you hear choked silences between snores, and your honey tends to doze off during the day, apnea is likely and the person should see a doctor.

Longtime sex educator Michael Castleman, M.A., answers sexuality questions for free at GreatSexAfter40.com.

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