We spend on average 26 years of our lives asleep. At least half of that on average with a partner (we have to discount the time you were a child, and however long it took you to find The One). That makes 227916 hours of real time spent with your loved one. Many studies have been done into how sleeping together affects you. Even down to what your sleeping position says about your relationship. We’ve put together just some of the benefits science says sleeping together has to offer.
The Love Hormone
Oxytocin! Truly a wonder drug. Not something we’ve yet worked out how to bottle and sell – well except in chocolate form. Eating chocolate can promote oxytocin as well as dopamine secretion in the brain. Which might be why we crave chocolate when we’re going through a down patch. Oxytocin is a chemical compound that our brains create which makes us feel reduced anxiety, as well as increasing feelings of trust, empathy and relaxation. If you’ve got kids, you may be aware of the advice that holding your newborn children is one of the best things you can do for them. This isn’t just to regulate temperatures, it’s also so they can create oxytocin. Humans need humans – physical contact is one of the easiest ways to make your oxytocin rise. And all those lovely feelings make for a perfect chemical cocktail for sleep.
We don’t have a lot of proof for this (evolution is still theoretical, after all) but one of the theories for why sleeping together is beneficial is that it calms our caveman brains. In the long distant past, before we slept in lockable buildings, sleeping together was a great way to defend against possible vulnerabilities. The more people around, the more people to hear an intruder, or bear. So we might sleep better with other people as an evolutionary defence mechanism.
Studies show that couples who regularly share a bed get at least 10% more REM sleep every night. REM, short for Rapid Eye Movement, is the phase of sleep that helps you make and maintain memories. Around a quarter of your sleep should be REM sleep, so it is important that the quality of your REM cycle is upheld. When REM sleep is stabilised, it has been shown to reduce emotional stress and improve your overall social interactions.
A University of Utah study found that people reported an increase in sleep issues when temporarily separated from their bed partner, regardless of the reason for their absence. Then, when reunited after the separation, couples noted a dramatic decline in sleep issues.
Sleeping with a partner is shown synchronise your sleep patterns. This doesn’t sound like much, other than maybe getting disturbed when your partner needs to go to the loo in the middle of the night. However, synchronised sleeper couples are supposed t have a higher rating of connected intimacy. Couples who sleep together are more likely to work through things together.
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, whether solo or with a partner, it might be because you’re sleeping in the wrong position. For some ideas of sleep poses to help you out, check out this post. And for those who want to snuggle up under some cosy bedding with their loved one. We recommend this gorgeous Organic Cotton Duvet Cover – Light Pink from Undercover.