Many couples (especially those who are having a hard time to catch ZZZs together) are probably wondering is it better to sleep alone or with your better half. Well, the answer to this question is far from a simple “yes” or “no”. In order to make a definitive conclusion, we have decided to compare sleeping alone vs. with snoozing with your partner. First, let’s take a look at the advantages of catching ZZZs with your significant other.
Why Should You Sleep with Your Sweetheart?
No many studies have been conducted on the subject, but most of them show that sharing your bed with someone has a positive influence on your health and sleep quality. For example, a study carried out at the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 by a professor of psychiatry and psychology, showed that women with partners sleep better than single women. The study specifically suggested that women in happy relationships and long-term marriages experience fewer sleep disturbances than single woman. It is also interesting to mention that generally, all the research we could found on the topic indicates that the psychological benefits of sleeping with a partner outweigh common co-sleeping troubles.
A recent study indicated that people who share their sleeping space (either by snoozing together in a bed or the same room) feel safer and less anxious. However, the science behind this research is still new, and there are yet a lot of things that need to thoroughly checked and examined before making such a conclusion. What we know so far is that sharing your sleeping space lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and maybe even reduces the levels of cytokines in the body which are responsible for inflammation. Co-sleeping may also boost your levels of oxytocin, known as the love hormone.
Health Benefits of Sleeping Next to Someone You Love
It helps you fall asleep faster. When you are alone in mind, it’s more challenging to relax. For example, if you had a hard day at work, when laying alone in bed, you could quickly start overthinking. However, when you’re sharing the bed with someone you love, it gives you a sense of security, allowing your body to relax much easier.
It lessens your stress levels. As mentioned in the beginning, studies have shown that when you’re sharing a bed with your bae, your cortisol levels drop, and oxytocin levels increase. Apart from relaxing and drifting off to the dreamland faster, lower stress levels reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other severe chronic illnesses.
It reduces body inflammation. We also briefly mentioned that research suggested the levels of cytokines in your body also decreases. Cytokines, apart from causing inflammation, also cause pain. Therefore, another warm body in bed and a bit of cuddling is a natural pain reliever.
It lowers your blood pressure. Researchers from the University of North California have found out that women who slept and received regular cuddles from their partners had increased oxytocin levels and lower blood pressure. According to dr. David Hamilton, oxytocin works as a natural angina medication and helps to minimize the constriction in the blood vessels.
It promotes ideal sleeping conditions. If you tend to get chilly at night, the warmth of your bae can help keep you snug as a bug. When you have the perfect sleeping conditions with someone next to you, you can also enjoy the best quality of sleep. Waking up refreshed in the morning will make you feel more positive and ready to face the day ahead.
It improves your immune system. Sleeping with your partner and making love boost your immune system. According to the experts from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, couples who are regularly intimate have a stronger immune system and have better chances of fighting the flu or common colds because they release more antibodies that make them healthier.
It slows down aging. Scottish neuropsychologist Dr. David Weeks has conducted a research and found out that regular quality cuddle time and lovemaking can make you look ten years younger.
You become in sync with your partner. If you and your bae go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, your circadian rhythms will sync, and you will basically become each other’s social timekeepers. According to studies, this synchronicity shows how much couples are satisfied in their relationship.
The physical closeness improves your relationship. Lastly, research carried out at the University of Hertfordshire that studies the effects of physical contact during sleep among couples concluded close physical relationship, cuddling and lying in bed close to one another strengthens couple’s relationship and helps them to bond.
Couple Sleep Problems
Most sleeping problems experienced by couples can, fortunately, be settled if you communicate well and respect each other sleeping needs. So, what are the biggest struggles couples face when snoozing together? According to our research, most partners have troubles sharing a bed due to different sleep habits, different sleep patterns, and different sleep needs. For example, issues can quickly arise if a deep sleep and a light sleep share a bed, or if a night owl is dating an early bird. One partner’s health issues may affect the sleep quality of another partner. Basically, all of the couples’ differences can cause problems when sleeping together.
When you have been sleeping for a long time alone, suddenly sharing a bed may be troublesome. However, although it seems hard, you should be able to adapt to share your blanket and learn how to sleep with someone again.
Now let’s take a look at some of the most common couple sleep problems and how to solve them.
A Snoring bedmate. Snoring is definitely the most common problem partner face when sharing a bed. Depending on what causes it, solutions may vary. If your sweetheart suffers from sleep apnea, he or she must get appropriate treatment.
Simple snoring is often positional, so waking up your partner to change his or her sleep position may help. For example, sleeping on your back will more likely cause snoring, while sleeping on the side should open up the crowded oropharynx and ensure proper breathing.
Using a special pillow, a neti pot, or anti-snoring mouthguard may also help both partners to sleep better and healthier. Losing excess weight and limiting alcohol consumption for the snoring partner is also recommended.
If that doesn’t help, allowing the non-snoring partner to fall asleep first might help (unless he or she isn’t a light sleeper). Earplugs, fans, white noise machines, or noise-canceling headphones could also be a lifesaver.
Tossing and turning. Tossing and turning barely happens without reason, so before kicking your bae out of bed, you should try to get to the root of the restlessness. This issue may be caused due to stress, anxiety, medication or even some sleep disorder such as restless legs syndrome. Rarely, restlessness is just that person’s normal sleep pattern. If that is your case, buying a special mattress that minimizes movement and eliminates noise should help. Also, it’s essential that you have a big bed. The bigger the bed, the fewer the chances you are to disturb your partner.
Stealing the covers. This problem is easily solved – just use separate covers. In case your sheets slide to the other side in the middle of the night, you could buy two beds and slide them next to each other, but make sure each one has its own pair of sheets. You can also place a big comforter over both of you, but in the middle of the night, your sheets won’t move. Problem solved.
Night Owl vs. early riser. If you and your significant other simply have different sleep patterns, and sleep/wake schedule, you shouldn’t force each other to sleep at the same time if one of you isn’t ready. The biggest problem is that this way you are missing a very important time in your relationship and that is spending time together in bed, cuddling and simply enjoying each other’s presence. Since this is an essential part of a healthy relationship, you should commit to these activities before the first partner is ready for sleep. Once your significant other drifts into the dreamland, you, the night owl, can get out of the bed and resume your nightly activities.
In order to successfully overcome this issue, you should really have a conversation about it. People are very protective of their sleep, and when they are not sleeping well, they are not feeling good. A small change of habits such as using an eye mask (for the early bird) or using a night light (for the night owl) can significantly help.
Nighttime tech use. Your bedroom should a sleep sanctuary and a haven for couples, meaning there is no place for electronics and nighttime tech use. Having smartphones, computers, TVs and similar tech in the bedroom and interacting with them close to bedtime may severely disturb your sleep in two ways – by stimulating your brain, and suppressing the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. If you like to use electronics before bed, set up a docking station for your gadgets that’s outside the bedroom.
Don’t forget that you need a buffer between work and bed and that work-related activities and technology on your nightstand brings work and stress into the bedroom, making peaceful sleep more challenging to come than it should.
Sleep Temperature Preferences. Generally speaking, it’s healthier to sleep in a comfortably cool than warm environment. Although most people prefer to sleep in chillier bedrooms, some like to keep it toasty. If one partner is shivering while the other one is sweating, this is a major issue.
So, how can you solve this issue? According to experts, the recommended temperature for sleep is somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees in the evenings. Your bedroom temperature should be set to the cooler rather than the warmer side for a simple reason – because it’s easier to get warmer than to get cooler. If you are the partner that gets chilly at night, try warming yourself up by wearing socks, using a thicker blanker or even getting a heating pad for your side of the bed.
If you are a hot sleeper, the best way to stay cool without affecting your bae is to sleep with your feet outside of the blankets. If that doesn’t help, try sleeping naked or put a fan on your side on the bed.
Mattress preferences. Finding a perfect mattress for yourself is definitely not easy. Now imagining the double trouble when you have to find a bed that suits both you and your significant other. Depending on your body type, sleeping position and style, you are going to have different needs.
Similarly, to the problem with room temperature, it’s easier to make your mattress softer than it is to make it harder. So, opt for a firmer mattress, and when you get home, modify it by adding a foam topper to the one side. Fortunately, many mattress industries have recognized this common couple sleep problem and developed special mattresses for couples, which include adjustable and multiple firmness levels.
Sleeping with pets. Can’t sleep without cuddling your pet? This can be a problem if your bae doesn’t share the same attitude. If one person just can’t stand animals in the bed while the other person can’t sleep without their pet, you have a real problem. The solution for this issue lies in quality communication and compromise within the relationship. Both sides need to understand each other and adapt. For example, if you have to sleep with your pet, instead of cuddling with it, train them to stay at the end of the bed, so they don’t disturb your partner’s sleep. Trying to get your little furry friend to sleep in a pet bed or on the floor rather than sleeping with you and your significant other is also a viable solution.
Keep in mind that sleeping with your pet may have mental health benefits for you, but’s it’s not good for your physical health and it’s not hygienic. Change sheets at least every week and keep good airflow in the room to eliminate pet dander, bad smells and reduce the risk of allergies.
Sleeping naked – A Big Yes or a No-No? Sure, getting naked in bed with your significant other sounds great because it indicates standard sexy time protocol. However, not everyone likes to sleep naked. While some people enjoy sleeping au natural, others aren’t so enthusiastic about seeing a bare booty first thing in the morning. Like in the previous case, the solution is to talk with your partner, especially if one of you truly feel uncomfortable. Sleeping naked brings multiple benefits to your mental and physical health, so you should be encouraged to try it out. If you are concerned about hygiene, regularly change your sheets and take a shower before climbing into bed in your birthday suit.
How to Peacefully Sleep with Your Partner?
The benefits of sleeping next to someone you love outweigh the drawbacks, but that doesn’t mean your sleep quality should suffer if you can’t come to an agreement or solution. When nothing really works, you should consider sleeping in different beds or rooms. For many couples, the time right before sleep is most vital to a relationship, and not the slumber itself. In case you have to snooze separately, don’t forget to nurture this part of your relationship and find a way to maintain the closeness and intimacy in that interval right between day and night.
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A wannabe journalist who somehow ended up as an art historian. She is a gamer, a coffee addict and a sleep aficionado. When she is not researching about sleep and finding out new ways to fight off the insomnia beast, she's spending time with her friends, gaming or visiting local museums.