Beyonce and hubby Jay-Z made it trendy when it was rumoured that they sleep separately, even going so far as to rent separate hotel rooms when they travel together.

But now, it’s scientific fact. Sleeping together may actually be bad for your health.

Sleep specialist Dr. Neil Stanley, head of one of Britain’s leading sleep labs, recently told the British Science Festival that while couples believed they slept better with their partner, evidence has proved that couples suffer 50 per cent more sleep disturbances if they share a bed.

The resulting lousy night’s sleep can be linked to everything from depression to heart disease, strokes, traffic and industrial accidents and even divorce.

Of course, this news goes against conventional wisdom. As a culture, we believe that separately is a sign of trouble in paradise that leads to marital doom.

But Stanley, who sleeps separately from his wife, says that historically, couples sharing a bed wasn’t even common until the industrial revolution, when people moved to overcrowded towns and cities and living space was limited.

In ancient Rome, for example, the marital bed was for one thing, and that wasn’t sleeping.

I’ve long believed that sleeping apart — even having separate bedrooms — can actually be good for a relationship. Not only do you get a decent night’s sleep, but you get your own space when you need it, and you can relish in the excitement of sneaking into each other’s room just like when you were just dating and your parents made you sleep in separate bedrooms when you stayed with them. Besides, nothing builds resentment more than watching your partner sleep blissfully beside you while you toss and turn beside them. How is that good for a relationship?

It seems more and more couples are coming around to my way of thinking. According to the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S., the amount of couples sleeping separately rose from 12 per cent in 2001 to 23 per cent in 2005.

And, according to the National Association of Home Builders, they’ve seen an increase in requests for “two-master bedroom” homes and predict that by 2015, 60 per cent of all custom upscale homes will be built with two “owner suites.”

I’m sure lots of couples don’t have a problem sleeping in the same bed. Some may actually even enjoy it.

But if you don’t, and it’s affecting the quality of your sleep, you need to get over the fact that sleeping separately is unhealthy for the relationship because the exact opposite may be true.

It may well be that what your relationship really needs is a good night’s sleep ... in separate beds.

– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.