United we sleep -- divided, too

A scene from "I Love Lucy" showing the infamous twin beds.

Story by Cindy Dampier
(Chicago Tribune/MCT)
Mon, Mar 21, 2011
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Remember back when love was new? Tangled up in a fresh romance, you and your partner could hardly be parted. Work? A distraction from couple time. Sleep? Well, let's be honest — it wasn't high on your list of priorities. You'd wake each morning, gently retrieve your numb and tingling arm from underneath your beloved and set off to work, a kink in your neck and a song in your heart.

Flash-forward a few years, and those bags under your eyes are less a testament to your passion, more a cry for help — and maybe concealer. Love is still delightful. But Prince Charming, it turns out, is more than just a hot little ticket to happy ever after. He's a serious sleep disruption. Yeah, we mean the snoring. Tossing and turning so vicious it makes you feel like a rodeo clown. And those arms that embrace you? Twenty pounds of circulation-impeding, hair-pulling dead weight. Throw in a restless leg and a stray nightmare or two, and you're longing for a little space of your own. And to that we say: Consider the twin bed. Here's why:

1. It isn't that weird. Sure, your first thoughts when we said twin beds were Lucy and Desi, Grandma and Grandpa. But according to studies by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 1 in 4 American couples reports sleeping in separate beds — most simply in search of a good night's rest. Will twin beds solve your snoring dilemma? Probably not, if the decibels roughly equate to those of a buzz saw. But twin beds plus earplugs? You're golden.

2. Twins are cool. Not like the Olsen twins. Cooler. If you've cracked a glossy shelter mag lately, you've probably seen plenty of rooms feature those adorable (yep, even chic) twins. Stop wondering what your mom will think when she comes to visit. Instead, focus on the functional yet glam bedroom you'll create with a pair of those sleek rectangles.

3. It doesn't mean no sex. Couples who can't snooze together might have to work a little harder to find their fun time. Which reminds us — isn't fun you have to work for often the fun that's really worth having? Remember, twin beds can always be pushed together, after you chase each other around them. How did you think Lucy and Desi ended up with Little Ricky, anyway?

4. It might just save your relationship. Those couples who are sleeping apart? Many report that good sleep makes for a happier partnership. After all, you might have more energy to keep the flame alive if you're not face down in your Cheerios from sleep deprivation. Just tell your partner you'd like him to consider inviting a pair of twins into your relationship. He'll be in a daze exactly long enough for you to run out to the mattress store.

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Spring for a king

Remember before you had kids? As a member of a bona fide grown-up couple, you owned a bed. You knew what to do with it. It was average size, and, you know, you were fine with that. There was plenty of room to accommodate the holy trinity of bedtime pursuits: sleep, television and sex. Sometimes all at the same time. In other words, all was well.

Enter the baby.

Not that you ever planned to share your bed with a child. Too undisciplined. Bad for couple time. Right. These days, so many people are crowding into your bed that it's starting to feel like a Tokyo subway. The spot where you once cuddled with your beloved is now a staging area for sibling grudge matches. Far too often, you find yourself driven to mattress edge by a relentless kid knee in your back, white-knuckling the covers. This is your wake-up call: It's time for a bigger bed. Here's why upgrading to a king will change your life:

1. You're almost alone. A king bed is technically still just one bed. But it's the size of two twin beds. Which means, when it's just you and your partner, you can pile up 17 pillows if you like. Kick those gangly stilts out from under the covers with a clear conscience. Read magazines at midnight. He'll be peacefully undisturbed.

2. The kids can come in. Is that a good thing? At 3 a.m., probably not. But if you're not immune to the charms of a morning snuggle delivered by a sleepy-eyed toddler, you're set. And you won't have to pay for that indulgence by forfeiting the covers or your spot on the mattress.

3. They fill a room. Truth be told, we've never been a fan of the square shape of the king. The linens are large and cumbersome. The lines of the king bed don't lend themselves to great bedroom design. However, if you've got a reasonably large master bedroom, a king can make itself at home. And you won't need much else to make your room feel furnished. Add two nightstands and get a bench for the end of the bed to round things out. Done.

4. There's a sweet spot. Once you welcome a king into your home, you might glance across its vast expanses and notice something: There's a little no man's land in the middle. That adorable person who used to spoon you is now spooning a king-size pillow. Hmpf. Isn't that your cell phone on the nightstand? Give the man a call. Offer to meet him in the middle. There you'll be, marooned smack-dab in the center of an ocean of empty bed. If you don't make it into work, we'll call the Coast Guard.

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