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Why sleeping together is good for you

By Sarah Moses Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30
Can sleeping next to your partner at night be good for your health? Research published in The Wall Street Journal shows that sharing a bed could have its benefits.

People in loving relationships enjoy more than just companionship and affection – they may actually be healthier and live longer lives, research has shown. In the quest to find out what it is about relationships that’s so healthy, some scientists have come to believe that snuggling up next to a partner ever night could make a difference.

That’s the conclusion Wall Street Journal reporter Andrea Peterson came to. She made a round-up of recent studies on how sleeping next to your sweetheart at night can affect your health.

Snuggle up, stress down

For one thing, bed-sharing might lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, some researchers reason. That makes pretty good sense, since knowing your long-term partner is asleep next to you can be a comforting thought.

The physical closeness that comes with sharing a bed with a sweetheart might also boost levels of the hormone oxytocin, which has a reputation for being the love hormone,  helping to build bonds between people, and lowering anxiety, studies have shown.

What’s more, it gets even more medical. Sleeping next to a partner might reduce levels of molecules called cytokines in the body, says Peterson. And that can reduce inflammation – which is involved in all sorts of different health problems.

Though scientists have more research to do before they know for sure how whether bedmates have better health, there seem to be very real psychological benefits to knowing your partner is literally by your side, say researchers who study couples’ sleeping habits.

Snorers and blanket thieves

With all the potential health benefits of sharing a bed, who wouldn’t want to sleep next to their partner? Well, those who can’t sleep, when they’re next to their partner. And more often than not, that tends to be women, research has shown.

Under this category fall the boyfriends and girlfriends of snorers, blanket thieves, and partners who toss and turn in their sleep. There’s also the common problem of different bedtimes – some people are inherent night owls, while others get sleepy well before midnight.

How can you get the health benefits of sleeping next to your partner when you can’t even get a good night’s sleep? The experts Peterson interviewed came up with some suggestions. If you and your partner get tired at different times, one option is to spend intimate time together in bed earlier on in the night. The partner with an earlier bedtime can then hit the sack, while the other partner gets out of bed and returns later on when they’re sleepy.

If you sleep next to a blanket thief or have a partner who moves around a lot, there’s a simple solution, Peterson notes: get another blanket, and have one each.

Reference: The Wall Street Journal

Do you sleep better alone or snuggled up with a partner? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.

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