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Full Disclosure - working from home the last few days I've had a lot of time on my hands, and WAY too much news time. Which is why I went down a Self-Distancing-Google-Rabbit-Hole! Since this whole mess began I haven't been able to stop thinking about some of the older TV shows I love to watch - like I Love Lucy - where the husband and wife slept in separate beds. So it had me thinking - "Why did we used to sleep in separate beds, and why did we stop"?
Many google searches later...I came across a few articles talking about Hilary Hinds, a Lancaster University professor, who published a book entitled A Cultural History of Twin Beds. I was pretty shocked about the REAL history behind why we used to sleep in smaller, separate beds instead of one large bed.
Don't Believe the Modesty Story
I used to always think that shows showed couples in separate beds as some sort of veil of modesty that was part of so many other older shows (like why we never saw Jeannie's belly-button in I Dream of Jeannie until later seasons 🤷♀️). While I am sure this had something to do with it, the history behind the twin bed goes way further back.
In Hinds' book, she details how Victorian doctors warned of serious consequences of "bed-sharing". After battling plagues and other deadly diseases like cholera, typhus and scarlet fever it was many doctors recommendation that having "bed-fellows" was a bad idea! In addition to this, experts at the time started to portray personal hygiene as a sign of modernity, and lack there of denoted a lack of enlightenment.
For almost a century (roughly from 1850 to 1950's) it was thought that having separate beds was considered a healthier, and more modern way of cohabitating in the bedroom. "Separate beds for every sleeper are as necessary as are separate dishes for every eater," wrote Dr. Edwin Bowers in his 1919 volume, Sleeping for Health.
The twin-sized bed gained popularity with the rise of modernism. Designers like Le Corbusier started using twin beds in their designs instead of the larger, full-sized or queen-sized beds of the Victorian era. It was also thought that the use of identical twin beds symbolized the progressive equality of married couples themselves. Highlighting the need for time apart, so we can appreciate the time together.
So What Happened?
After World War II, family incomes started to rise. Couples started getting married younger and younger. We were on the verge of the sexual revolution / open-thinking times of the 60's and 70's. Sleeping in separate beds started to be thought of as "old-school", or showing signs of trouble in your marriage.
Now we have gone to the opposite side of the spectrum. Some of my clients ask me for "family-size" beds - even larger than your standard King size! But in light of our current situation, the twin bed model has me thinking, Maybe it's not a bad idea?
Thinking about our most recent blog Post (Top Tips on How to Fall & Stay Asleep), there are a lot of sleep studies that show how sleeping in your own bed is known to promote better sleep. I have fond memories of my dormitory days, being squished into a tiny bed and forced to cuddle (for a certain amount of time anyways LOL). I wonder if sleeping in separate beds would make you and your spouse more present and active in your displays of affection if you have to put more effort into your interactions.
So often my husband and I take for granted that we share a bed together. The norm is usually our two dogs (equalling almost 175 pounds) between us. If we had separate beds, would it be a different story? Maybe the dogs would actually sleep on the floor!
So Will I Ditch My Big Bed?
Despite my recent enlightenments, for now I will stick with my current co-dependent-sleeper situation. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to follow along with some cool twin bedroom ideas on pinterest and on Instagram!