- While couples' sleeping arrangements can be a source of conflict, new research suggests that romantic co-sleeping also comes with many benefits.
- In a recent study, people who slept in bed with a romantic partner reported better sleep than those who slept alone or next to a child.
- Additional benefits of sleeping beside a partner included less fatigue, falling asleep faster, and spending more time asleep.
A couple’s sleeping arrangement is a common hot topic in relationships. Whether it’s the temperature of the room, having the TV on, or the position in which you sleep, there’s lots of potential for conflict.
Your partner may have a different sleep schedule, move around at night, or worse, snore. With all of those potential complications, it may seem as though the solution is to sleep separately. However, recent research shows that co-sleeping may be worth working on because sleeping alongside your partner can have several benefits.
To study this, researchers at the University of Arizona surveyed over 1,000 working-age adults from southeastern Pennsylvania (Fuentes et al., 2022). Questionnaires asked about sleeping arrangements—whether alone, alongside a partner, or alongside a child—fatigue, sleepiness, how long it takes to fall asleep, perceived sleep quality, sleep problems (e.g., sleep apnea), mental health, and relationship health.
As the lead author Brandon Fuentes from the department of psychiatry at the University of Arizona explains, "Sleeping with a romantic partner or spouse shows to have great benefits on sleep health including reduced sleep apnea risk, sleep insomnia severity, and overall improvement in sleep quality." Other specific sleep improvements of sleeping with a romantic partner included: less fatigue, falling asleep faster, and spending more time asleep.
In addition, those who shared their bed with their partner reported lower anxiety, stress, and depression, along with greater life satisfaction. Sharing a bed also appeared to help the relationship via increased social support and relationship satisfaction.
However, the results were not very positive for those sleeping alongside a child. Those who shared their bed with a child reported that they had less control over their sleep, experienced more insomnia, were at greater risk for sleep apnea, and reported more stress. Thus, while co-sleeping with a child may have benefits for the child, it appears as though it comes at a cost for the parent(s). The study also found that compared to other sleeping arrangements, those who slept alone reported more depression, less social support, as well as lower life and relationship satisfaction.
What This Means
There are few things more important to our physical and mental well-being than sleep and relationships. Sharing our bed with a partner could help both.
Much like relationships in general, sleeping together has its share of potential conflict and sources of stress. While those are easy for us to notice, there are many helpful aspects of sharing our bed with a romantic partner that are less obvious. It's another reminder of how important our romantic relationship is for our well-being and life satisfaction, often in ways we take for granted.
Facebook image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
Fuentes, B., Kennedy, K., Killgore, W., Wills, C. & Grandner, M. (2022). 0010 Bed sharing versus sleeping alone associated with sleep health and mental health, Sleep, 45 (Supplement_1), A4. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsac079.009