Do you sleep better with your partner? Interpretation of sleep material

IIf you’ve ever had sex just to fall asleep right after, you’re familiar with the sleep-inducing effects of being busy. ICYMI: Sex not only causes physical fatigue, but it also stimulates the release of a hormonal cocktail that can make you feel calm and relaxed. But as it turns out, you don’t have to have sex or even cuddle with your partner (although that also has sleep-promoting benefits) to sleep better in their presence. Despite these activities, some people only sleep better next to their loved one thanks to a number of psychological factors.

“For many people, sleeping with a romantic partner is an opportunity to connect,” says sleep psychologist Wendy Troxel, PhD, senior behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation and author of the book. , intimate and comfortable, this can facilitate a good night’s sleep. Sharing the Cover: A Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep, and scientific advisor to “For example, my study showed that over an 11-year follow-up period, women in a stable, long-term relationship slept better than unmarried women or women going through a relationship transition. relationship.”

It’s important to note that it doesn’t just sleep with not at all partners are likely to bring you better sleep. The co-sleeping effect seems to be strongest when a person sleeps next to a partner they love or with whom they have an active relationship. “In our study, we found that happily married women sleep better than those without a partner. or Dr. Troxel said.

Scientifically speaking, why can’t you sleep better next to the one you love?

Sleeping better with a partner is largely a result of hormones. You may not be surprised to learn that oxytocin—commonly known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle chemical” it releases during sexual arousal—plays an important role here. “Physical closeness to a partner while in bed can stimulate the release of oxytocin, which has been shown to promote feelings of calm and relaxation, which can have implications,” says Dr. Troxel. beneficial for sleep.

This sleep-promoting release of oxytocin can happen regardless of any intimate act between the two of you. But since kissing, cuddling, hugging, and sex can all trigger the release of oxytocin, the sleepy effect is likely to be much stronger if you warm each other up. (Orgasms can also increase your prolactin hormone levels, which can also has a sedating effect.)

It is also possible that simply the company of a warm body (specifically someone you know cares deeply about you) can aid sleep on its own, the way the brain perceives it. sleep.

“Having a trusted partner to sleep by your side can help reduce your stress signals.” —Wendy Troxel, PhD, sleep psychologist and scientific advisor for

Dr Troxel said: “From an evolutionary perspective, sleep is a state of vulnerability. The mind can keep you from falling into that state if it senses any insecurity. (If you’ve ever felt yourself on high alert, lying in bed, awake while trying to sleep in an unfamiliar environment, you know this fact very well.) “One of the ways. The main way for us to have safety or security is through social connections, which can decrease the system’s response to stress or the release of hormones including cortisol that occurs when the brain senses a threat. ,” said Dr. Troxel. “Having a trusted partner sleeping next to you can help reduce that stress signal.”

Sleep psychologist Samina Ahmed Jauregui, PsyD, advisor to Pluto Pillow, says if you sleep next to your loved one every night or consistently over time, their presence can also help. it’s easier for you to fall asleep because of the simple fact that you’re used to it. . “Regular and consistent is the key to good sleep.”

Separately, you can also sleep better next to your partner the way they make you feel outside the same goes for the bedroom. “Maintain a close relationship [and co-sleeping with this person] Sleep psychologist Rebecca Robbins, PhD, a sleep consultant at sleep technology company Oura, says that may also be linked to better sleep, because a partner can help you manage stress. forthright by acting as a listener to your problems and providing social support. With lower overall stress levels, you’re more likely to fall asleep more easily when your head hits the pillow.

Does sleeping with a partner always improve sleep quality?

That said, sleeping with a partner is definitely not a prerequisite for a good night’s sleep. Nor is it true that sharing a bed with a partner will result in better sleep than sleeping alone for everyone.

“There is no universal approach that works for all couples to achieve the best sleep,” said Dr. Troxel, pointing out the conflicting findings in the study. “Some evidence suggests that when sleep is objectively measured (such as through wrist-worn sleep trackers), people sleep worse when sharing a bed. But if you ask the same people, ‘Do you prefer to sleep alone or with a partner?’ most would say they prefer to sleep with their partner,” she said. “This suggests that for some people, the psychological benefits of sleeping together may outweigh the small objective costs.”

For others, however, the cost of sharing a bed has a significant impact on sleep. “For example, in some relationships, one partner may be an owl while the other partner is a nightingale, causing serious difficulties in getting along,” says Dr. a sleep and wake schedule. “And in other cases, one partner may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or REM sleep behavior disorder, which can be disruptive for the other.”

In other cases, a person with insomnia may also have a harder time falling asleep in the presence of their partner due to their tendency to “compare others,” says Dr. Jauregui. “Like, ‘Why can’t I fall asleep as fast or sleep as well as they can?’ or set unrealistic expectations, such as ‘If my husband sleeps eight hours a night, so do I.’” do so when they have trouble falling asleep, she adds.

Sleeping separately, in all of these situations, will allow both partners to have better sleep. Despite the negative connotations surrounding the term “sleep divorce,” choosing to break up with your partner at night doesn’t necessarily result in a loss of intimacy, connection, or closeness. In fact, both you and your partner sleep better (whether it’s together or apart), the more your relationship will be able to grow. “When people sleep well, they are happier, healthier, communicate better, and are more empathetic with their partners — all of which are the cornerstones of healthy relationships,” says Dr. Troxel.

If you *do* sleep better with your partner, how can you repeat that sleep away from them (or after a breakup)?

As noted above, sleeping better next to your partner often comes from feeling comfortable, secure, calm, or connected. While you can’t exactly reproduce your partner’s sense of presence without them around, you can certainly take other steps to create the same kinds of sleep-promoting sensations. .

“Things like a good quality mattress and pillow, a night light, a pet, or the familiar sound of an upstairs neighbor or the glimmer of light from a lamp post outside can all give the impression,” says Dr Jauregui. comfortable. On the other hand, your partner’s presence is certainly not the only thing that can relieve your daytime stress or slow down your thoughts before bed. “Taking time to manage your stress through other measures, prioritizing sleep hygiene, and normalizing a bad night of sleep can allow you to reap the benefits of sleep,” she says. sleep like sleeping with your partner.

If you’re looking for a more tangible fulcrum for your partner in their absence, you could also try a “transitional object,” says Dr. Troxel. This usually refers to an object like a blanket or stuffed animal “that provides comfort to children at night when parents are not around,” she says, “but adults can also use it. use transitional objects—such as a T-shirt or your partner’s clothes—to provide a sense of connection even when they’re not together.” Indeed, one study found that people slept better when exposed to their partner’s scent over a t-shirt than when they weren’t, she added.

Recently ended things with your partner and have trouble sleeping since? Dr. Troxel suggests that you can still recreate the effect of sleeping next to them (at least partially) with a more general transitional object, such as a pillow, blanket or even a stuffed animal . Any of these can help ‘provide a sense of comfort and security conducive to sleep,’ she says.

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