We’ve written before here at SleepBetter about how sleeping separately may be the best way for some couples to get the rest they need. Some individuals are simply incompatible co-sleepers, and sleeping in separate beds may be the best for them. New research, however, indicates that if you ARE able to sleep with your significant other, there are health benefits that can help you live longer.
The new research runs counter to studies that show people who sleep with another person move more during the night, as well as anecdotal evidence of sheet-stealing and bedroom temperature battles.
The Wall Street Journal in a recent story, however, quotes expert Dr. Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh:
While the science is in the early stages, one hypothesis suggests that by promoting feelings of safety and security, shared sleep in healthy relationships may lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Sharing a bed may also reduce cytokines, involved in inflammation, and boost oxytocin, the so-called love hormone that is known to ease anxiety and is produced in the same part of the brain responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. So even though sharing a bed may make people move more, “the psychological benefits we get having closeness at night trump the objective costs of sleeping with a partner,” Dr. Troxel says.
In the end, scientists believe that sleeping with a partner may be a major reason why people with close relationships tend to be in better health and live longer. But, logic dictates that if you’re simply not able to sleep well with your partner, a separate bed may be the best way to keep your marriage afloat.