When our 45th president isn't composing late-night tweets or puttering around the White House in his bathrobe at 3am, he's sleeping alone. And that's not only because Melania lives roughly 204 miles away from Pennsylvania Avenue. Anonymous sources told Us Weekly that the Trumps are effectively sleep-divorced:
[Melania] refuses to share a bed with Donald even on the rare occasions when they sleep in the same city. “They have separate bedrooms,” says another Trump insider. “They never spend the night together — ever.” (A third source says the couple do sleep in the same room but keep separate beds: “It’s very ‘royal’ of them!”)
Us Weekly interpreted this hard-hitting news as evidence of Melania's misery as FLOTUS and resentment of Donald. It is entirely believable that Melania hates her new role and her old husband. But it's also pretty common for married people to sleep separately. In fact, there's a lot of debate over the significance of uncoupling at bedtime. So, this gossip about the first couple's sleep habits doesn't say anything definitive about Melania's satisfaction with her life choices. But, it does give me a reason to list some facts about couples and bed-sharing:
2. Bed-sharing norms have varied considerably throughout history and across cultures. During the pre-industrial era, it was customary for entire families, and even friends, to share sleeping quarters. Bedmates were sometimes chosen based on their ability to make conversation, as Benjamin Reiss points out in his book "Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World." Then, in the Victorian era, bed-sharing between couples came to be seen as an unsanitary practice.
3. Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of couples sleep in separate beds, according to researchers at Ryerson University in Canada. The National Sleep Foundation put that figure at 25 percent. Therapists and marriage counselors differ as to whether they think sleeping separately takes a toll on intimacy. Here's "a rational defense of sleeping alone," courtesy of James Hamblin at The Atlantic.
4. Research has found that, while people report sleeping better alongside their partners (than alone), objective tests show that couples get better rest when they part ways at bedtime.
5. As of 2015, snoring rooms (i.e., second master suites) were supposedly becoming a trend for rich Brits. According to various, questionably reliable sources, architects are still getting bombarded with snoring-room design requests. In some cases, couples go for two bedrooms joined by a shared bathroom. Others are opting for equally plush master suites at opposite ends of the house.
6. Classic TV couples, e.g., Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, weren't legally obligated to climb into separate twin beds. The Hays Code, a self-imposed Hollywood decency code that semi-successfully promoted on-screen chastity from the 1930s to the 1960s, didn't apply to television. But most TV shows followed suit anyway.