Long-married couple Rich Roll and his wife Julie Piatt sleep in separate beds at their Malibu Canyon home near Los Angeles. This is not inherently newsworthy, because what happens behind closed doors shouldn’t be anyone else’s business, but word got out and now everyone has an opinion.
First, a little background on the Roll/Piatt household. Roll is a 55-year-old athlete and advocate who has slept in a tent in their yard for nearly two years. Roll said in a YouTube video that this arrangement allows him to sleep better and connect with nature. Those both sound like worthy, peaceful goals.
But of course people want to know what’s wrong with his marriage. If a couple doesn’t sleep together, do they truly love each other? Roll recently told podcast host Tim Ferriss that everything in his marriage is “all good.”
Roll used to be a lawyer and is a recovered alcoholic. Around 15 years ago, he began following a plant-based diet, dropped 50 pounds, and completed a 3-day double-Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. His memoir, “Finding Ultra,” details his personal growth and transformation. Roll hosts the “Rich Roll Podcast,” which has more than 200 million downloads so far.
He told Ferriss a little bit about why he likes sleeping in a tent – albeit with a well-appointed Malibu house a few feet away.
“If everything went terribly wrong and I lost everything, I know that I’m happy sleeping in a tent, and I don’t really need that much ultimately,” he told Ferriss on his podcast.
That’s a nice sentiment, but a little lukewarm coming from an affluent guy who lives in a warm climate year-round and eats veggie burgers. But he went on to say that sleeping outside was originally a solution to he and his wife requiring different sleeping environments to achieve optimum rest, which is nice.
“No matter how much we would try to compromise to make it good for both of us, Julie would always be bundled up under a ton of covers and I’m sleeping on top of the covers sweating,” he said to Ferriss. “And then neither of us sleeps and we get up and we’re not happy.”
After Roll, Piatt, and their kids slept on the roof one night, he woke up “just feeling amazing from the outdoor air and the cool desert air of Los Angeles.” That inspired him to continue sleeping outside, a trend that eventually led to acquiring a tent and making it a long-term habit.
He now sleeps in a tent beneath a solid roof in the backyard with a mattress and a gravity blanket. Not exactly roughing it, but at least the temperature is just right for his sleeping needs.
Roll continually said in the podcast that all is well between he and his wife, but commenters on the article that originally appeared on Insider had plenty to say.
Jim Kay wrote, “I have been married forty years now, for the first 20 I could not sleep very well with her knee in my back, for the last twenty years I find I cannot sleep very well if her knee is not in my back.”
Gary Bowen said, “Many loving couples sleep in separate areas, for a lot of reasons.”
Joy Acicula wrote, “How do I get my husband to sleep outside in a tent?”