IN MEDIEVAL times people didn't have special rooms for sleeping, just a single living space for everything. They put up with this lack of privacy partly due to the lack of other options.

In a great medieval hall there weren't enough separate rooms for all the servants, so the hall was used as a kind of dormitory with people sleeping on its floor at night.

The early modern European aristocrats had their own sleeping quarters and marital relations were planned and the wife would receive a note from her husband asking for the pleasure of her company.

However, modern western marital conventions have found husbands and wives or partners sleeping in the same bed.

But a survey by bed manufacturer Sealy shows that a significant number of cohabiting couples now prefers to sleep apart.

Sealy assessed the slumber habits of 1,000 people across the UK and, surprisingly, those in the 24-35 age bracket (21 per cent) are most likely to sleep apart, as are those living in the south of England (62 per cent).

All in all the survey revealed 36 per cent of all cohabiting couples regularly sleep in separate beds. The split can even happen in the first year together –21 per cent – while 10 per cent of those asked said they spend every night away from their partner.

The top reasons for sleeping apart emerged as escaping a partners’ snoring (48 per cent) or their tossing and turning (27 per cent), and 20 per cent of those responding preferred to have the bed to themselves or opting to share it with someone other than their partner – 13 per cent slept with their child in the bed and one in 10 with a pet.

Neil Robinson, Sealy’s sleep expert, said: “We understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep as it can impact on so many aspects of our lives, from efficient memory function to positive mood, improved energy levels and general wellbeing.

“The research findings are particularly fascinating, as we would commonly expect couples to share a bed when they sleep. However, rather than viewing sleeping in separate beds as a negative, it is really just a reflection of our evolving sleep behaviour, as couples place increased emphasis on getting quality slumber time.”