Oliver Zahle and his girlfriend do away with taboo: ‘We sleep separately’

It is with good reason that Oliver Zahle has been careful to say it out loud – he has neither told his friends nor family – that he and his girlfriend do not sleep together.

Because the symbol of love is two people in a double bed.

“If we cut the double bed into two or get separate bedrooms, we think the relationship is about to end,” says the comedian and lists the list of clichés:

“If a friend is sleeping on the sofa ‘at the moment’, you know what it’s all about. If you’ve been an asshole, the message is: ‘You can sleep on the sofa’. In films, the happy lie tightly entwined in the double bed, while the symbol of the disappearance of passion is two separate bedrooms.’

Oliver Zahle has written a book about how his snoring damaged his relationship with his girlfriend. Photo: Simon Klein-Knudsen

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But now he stands by it – not just in BT – he has also written it in a book:

“We sleep separately.”

For Oliver Zahle is “on the way to becoming a double-bed skeptic”.

He wonders why it is perceived as ‘completely normal’ to live at two addresses and still be lovers, while it is to live at the same address and not sleep together per definition is problematic.

Is 53 years old.
Comedian and writer.
Engaged to Annika Smith, who sits in the Copenhagen City Council for SF.
Father of a four-year-old son and ten-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Current with the book ‘Do I snore?’

It wasn’t because the girlfriend, Annika Smith, was tired of him that she started emigrating from the double bed. Instead, it was about him snoring and she was tired of not getting her night’s sleep.

Still, both he and she were affected by the thoughts of disaster, but now he is happy to sleep alone and wonders why more people don’t take advantage of the opportunity.

“My newfound mission is to break the taboo of sleeping in separate rooms, even if you are a couple. It is patently absurd that we should sleep together if we sleep badly.’

He wants us to understand that the double bed, the bedroom and the whole sleeping situation is a cultural construction which is not necessarily ‘good for us’.

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“We think it’s a bit of a shame for siblings if they have to share a room after they turn five. Why is it not a similar sin that adult people in a relationship have to share a room and bed,’ he asks in his book ‘Do I snore?’.

In his research, Oliver Zahle has been to the National Museum to understand why we ended up together in the double bed.

“We started sleeping together to keep warm and because we were afraid of scary dreams – and of the dark. But today, when we have heat and light and know what dreams are, the reasons for sleeping together are gone.’

Oliver Zahle has dubbed the double bed the “untouchable piece of furniture”, because although many couples sleep separately, most homes are still furnished with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and one bedroom.


Oliver Zahle has written a book about how snoring can lead to the romantic dream of happy people sleeping together - every night.

Oliver Zahle has written a book about how snoring can lead to the romantic dream of happy people sleeping together – every night.
Photo: NIELS AHLMANN OLESEN

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Around friends and acquaintances, he has started to discover the “hidden beds” – for example, when there is a couch disguised as a sofa in the study.

“Many people keep the double bed as a kind of scenography. Maybe to fool others, maybe to fool himself. I fall for it myself, because you can’t see in our apartment that we sleep separately.’

Oliver Zahle’s home has a double bed, a couch and his daughter’s bed, which is left empty every two weeks. Today, Annika Smith sleeps in the double bed with the couple’s four-year-old son, while he himself sleeps in one of the other rooms.

In addition to the fact that his snoring no longer keeps Annika awake at night, Oliver Zahle has begun to see other benefits of sleeping separately.

“I can watch the Champions League and eat popcorn in bed if I want, and I don’t wake anyone up if I have to pee in the night.”

But the arrangement is only a success because both Oliver Zahle and his girlfriend agree that the two beds are not a death blow to their relationship.

On the contrary:

According to Oliver Zahle, separate bedrooms can actually be an advantage when it comes to sex. Firstly, the physical distance means that they can “miss each other a little”.

Secondly, they are aware that sex does not automatically occur when they are not lying next to each other.

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“We talk more to get the pranks going, and I court my girlfriend to make it happen. A bit like when we didn’t live together, and I wrote: ‘Won’t you just come over’ or ‘Would you like a gentleman’s visit tonight’,’ he says, adding that the message today is phrased a little differently:

“As older people, you perform best in the morning – so we visit each other well-rested and don’t just have sex when we’re tired.”

Not sleeping together has made things easier at their house

“In our case, it goes really well because I sleep on the sofa. When I slept in the bedroom, it went really badly.’

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