THE BOTTOM LINE:
- Sharing a bed with someone you love can improve your sleep
- Good sleep can enhance your relationship
- It’s not always easy to share a bed and that’s ok!
You’re in love, you’re sharing a bed… how does that impact the quality of your sleep? It turns out that sharing a bed with someone you love can improve your sleep in many different ways, and improving your sleep can actually give you and your partner a better relationship.
How can sleeping with my partner improve my sleep?
It increases oxytocin: A snug session at bedtime is not just good for intimacy– it also causes your brain to release a hormone called oxytocin, which has a calming effect on your body.
Quick tip: Try grabbing a 10-minute cuddle session before you drift off to sleep. Spooning all night is not really a cozy situation for most people. Fortunately, research shows that a 10-minute cuddle session is all you need to gain the calming benefits of oxytocin and help you both fall asleep faster.
Be my security blanket: Researchers have found that people in stable relationships may have better sleep quality than their single counterparts. Sleeping beside your partner creates a feeling of security and safety, which can improve the stability of your sleep each night.
Pre-bedtime activities: Sleep experts agree that watching TV or working from bed can disrupt your sleep, but having sex before bed can help you sleep better! Sex with your significant other increases feelings of intimacy and reduces stress by boosting feel-good hormones and lowering cortisol. Sex also has unique gender benefits:
Women experience a rise in estrogen during sex, which can enhance REM sleep.
Men get a prolactin surge following orgasm, which can lead to better sleep quality.
How sleep affects your relationship
Now that we’re clear on how sharing your bed can improve sleep, what about the impact of sleep on your relationship? As it turns out, good sleep strengthens your bond! (See!? We told you that you could sleep your way to a better relationship). Here’s how quality sleep makes you a better partner:
Sleep boosts empathy: Research shows that when people get better quality sleep, they are more able to show empathy for others. Identifying your partner’s needs and being there for them is the foundation for building love and trust. And when it comes to romantic conflicts (we all have them!), research has found that you’re more likely to empathize with your partner’s feelings after sleeping well, leading to faster conflict resolution.
Sleep keeps us cool: Getting quality sleep helps to keep you from feeling irritable and lashing out. When you sleep, your brain takes time to reorganize itself for the next day. Inadequate sleep takes a toll on your ability to think clearly and have more patience. Research has gone so far as to suggest that lack of sleep may actually create angry or aggressive tendencies, and people have been found to become more frequently aggressive with their partners without adequate sleep.
Sleep keeps the hurt away: When you don’t get the sleep you need, it can make you more sensitive during interactions with loved ones. Research has found that losing sleep makes people more likely to be hypersensitive to rejection and hurt feelings. For example, after a night of poor sleep, you’re more likely to perceive an interaction with your partner as rejection which can feel very painful. After a great night of sleep, you’re better able to view the same interactions with less of an emotional-driven response.
Sleep boosts our emotional connection: If your sleep is lacking, it may cause your social life to be lacking too. Research has found that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to become socially avoidant and have higher reports of feeling lonely. Don’t let sleep be the cause of emotional distance between you and your partner!
Sharing ain't easy
There are many benefits to sharing a bed with someone you love. However, with these benefits sometimes comes many disruptions. Issues like snoring, overheating, different schedules, and overactive bladders can all be very disruptive to couples sharing a bed. Don’t worry, there are plenty of strategies for dealing with these disruptions! Just know that it’s not all bad, even if your partner has annoying sleep habits, learning how to get better sleep together will benefit your relationship in a ton of ways.