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Should you sleep alone, or with a partner?

By Abbie Stutzer | 3 Minute Read

Many coupled people wonder if it’s best to sleep alone or with a partner. The answer to this often asked question is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Let’s first examine the benefits of sleeping with your partner.

Why you should sleep with your partner

A 2009 study conducted by Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, discovered that some women with partners sleep better than single women.

The study concluded that women in happy, long-term marriages reported fewer sleep disturbances. The association was greatest among Caucasian women. The finding was still true for African American women, but to a lesser extent.

Other sleep research, including some of Troxel’s work, generally states that the psychological benefits of sleeping with a partner outweigh co-sleeping troubles.

Although the science is still new, one hypothesis posits that people who share a sleep space feel safer and are less anxious. This state corresponds with lower levels of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. The science also suggests that couples may also experience reduced cytokines, which is involved in inflammation. They also may feel a boost of oxytocin, which is known as the love hormone.

You don’t have to sleep alone if you communicate well

Thankfully, most of the “bad” that comes with sleeping with a partner can be settled between a couple during waking hours.

Many couples have trouble sharing a bed with a partner because no two people have the same sleep pattern, daily struggle, or ailment. Basically, one partner’s health issues, snoring habits, and general everyday stresses aren’t the same as their partner’s stresses. All of a couples’ differences can cause issues when the partnered pair shares a bed. For example, if a deep sleeper is married to a light sleeper, or if a “night-owl” is dating an “early bird”, issues can arise.

“Some people have spent years sprawled out across the bed or wrapped up in a blanket and suddenly they have to adjust to sleeping with someone,” says Paul Rosenblatt, University of Minnesota family social science professor and author of Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing. However, people can adapt and can learn how to sleep together again and again, adds Rosenblatt.

How to peacefully sleep with your partner

So, what if your partner’s early-morning alarm is too much to handle? You can, as previously stated, take action to improve you and your partner’s sleep experience.

1. Invest in a few sleep aid products

The National Sleep Foundation reports 28 percent of couples say their mattress hurts their and their partner’s sleep cycles.

If a mattress is at the heart of your sleep issues, consider investing in a quieter mattress. If you or your partner is a light sleeper, look into purchasing a memory foam mattress or latex bed. Each of these types of mattresses can absorb your partner’s nocturnal movements.

If you and your partner love your mattress, consider buying noise-reduction products. For example, a white noise machine can greatly reduce noise, such as snoring, tossing and turning, and help you sleep better.

2. Talk it out

We’ve mentioned this already, but maintaining open communication with your partner can help you and your partner avoid further sleep loss.

So, if you partner snores, help them combat snoring by buying an anti-snore pillow, or by suggesting they engage in other, snore-reducing activities and life tweaks. Some of these activities, tweaks include taking a warm shower before bed, eating better and staying hydrated, and exercise.

3. Evaluate sleep hygiene

If you or your partner routinely have issues falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up, examine if your bedroom is primed for good sleep hygiene. Things to consider include:

Temperature: It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold in your bedroom.
Darkness: A very dark bedroom is the best for sleep.
Quiet: A bedroom should be quiet and free from noise.
Comfortable: In general, your bedroom should be comfortable, and your mattress should allow you and your partner to easily lie down and stretch out.

Other sleep hygiene items you both should consider include the amount of time each of you needs to feel rested, each of your bedtimes (it’s best to go to bed at the same time every night), and pre-bedtime and bedroom screentime.

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