The National Sleep Foundation surveys the country about how, and how well, they sleep. Most Americans spend their nights "two in a bed," according to a new book by that name by sociologist Paul Rosenblatt. The vast majority of these co-sleepers are married couples. Many of them report that they would sleep better apart – due to snoring, thrashing about, differences in body temperature, etc., etc. Still, when Rosenblatt asked the couples he interviewed why they slept together anyway, "they looked at me as if I'd asked them why they keep breathing."
As most parents can prove from experience, co-sleeping is not always limited to two in the bed. Little people have a hundred reasons to appear in the night, wanting to be held. Often they then spend the rest of the night doing what seem like elaborate ballet routines in their sleep. When the junior Gruntleds were small, we referred to this as "spending the night with the Zamboni machine." For much of our children's youngest years, we hit upon the ingenious solution of sleeping on a mattress on the floor ourselves. The little ones would consent to sleep on the floor next to mom and dad if they were only a few inches higher. This was much better than having sharp little elbows in the ribs, or tiny feet suddenly in one's face.
I find it hard to sleep when business takes Mrs. Gruntled or me away. I can fall asleep well enough when I try. It just seems unnatural to turn out the light and lie down alone. Which I suppose is a sign that marriage becomes second nature to us in a literal sense.
Two in a bed – the bedrock of American solidarity.