We at Wolf hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day last week! As you enjoy the half-priced chocolate, we’ll dive into the science behind sleeping next to your partner: is it a blessing or a curse?
Quality sleep is a crucial part of a person’s well-being and the well-being of their relationships. For example, if you’re chronically sleep-deprived, you may become irritable and snap at the closest person. A lot of the time, that person who’s nearest to you is often your partner. And if you snap at them all the time… well, that might become a bigger problem than simply a “lack of sleep.”
So the better you sleep, the better chance you have of being well-equipped to have and maintain healthy relationships. But can the path to better sleep – or better health in general – be as simple as sleeping next to your partner? It’s possible, according to some experts.
Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping next to your loved one.
For some couples, especially couples comprised of one or more partners whose love language is physical touch, sleeping together can strengthen a physical bond. Even if you don’t spoon the whole night, the Alaska Sleep Clinic reports that “Whether you are cuddling close or brushing your feet or hands together… physical touch can create deeper bonds between two individuals by providing comfort and reassurance.”
And if you cuddle, there’s a chance that your brains will start releasing the famed oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Cuddling can also help drop your cortisol levels, which reduces stress overall. Reducing overall stress has ample health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to boosting your body’s immune response to disease.
Some studies also suggest some smaller, more fringe benefits. A pilot study published in Sleep Disorders journal found their co-sleeping couples reported increased sleep quality AND experienced objectively longer sleep where their sleep cycles synchronized. Another found that partners who slept together in the buff reported higher levels of “body appreciation,” meaning that sleeping next to each other while naked made their body images more positive.
Of course, nothing works unilaterally for everyone. Sleeping next to partners can cause disruptions, especially if co-sleeping with your partner is a new phenomenon. You and your partner might move more often and wake the other up; one may have sleep apnea and snore like a freight train; one might have night terrors that involve screaming or sleepwalking. Obviously, all of these things would impede a quality night’s sleep.
In addition, if your mattress or bed situation restricts your abilities to move freely, you both might wake up with neck, back, or hip pain.
In addition, if there are stressors or other issues in the relationship, the Sleep Foundation reports that “sleep satisfaction is also impacted” in those situations. So the age-old marriage advice, “Don’t go to bed angry” might serve to be health advice as well.
So if co-sleeping with your beau can lead to both improved AND worse sleep… what’s a couple to do? Well, evaluate what’s best for the both of you – because your sleep needs could change over time.
In an interview between Sleep Foundation and Dr. Wendy Troxel, Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist at Rand Corporation and author of a book about partner co-sleeping named Sharing the Covers, Troxel indicated that couples often feel ashamed about the idea of sleeping separately. This is often because of harmful myths stating that separate sleeping arrangements is indicative of problems with the relationship, even if the reverse may be true.
But the biggest point of the novel, according to Troxel, is that “the intersection between our sleep and our relationships is not static — it’s a dynamic that can also change throughout the lifespan of a couple.”
The most important aspect of successful sleep, either with or without your partner, is open communication about what is and is not working about your sleep schedules, as opposed to adhering to social norms and expectations about what a healthy couple “should” be doing.
Thanks for reading our post! If you’re looking for a bigger, better mattress that will help you get better sleep, alleviate pain, and last a long time, talk to Wolf! We’d love to show you our American-made mattresses and help you get the best sleep of your life on your budget.
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