In a new study, researchers found people can have better sleep if they sleep with their partner.
The research was conducted by a team at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry and elsewhere.
In many countries, sharing a bed with a partner is a common practice. Yet, research investigating the relationship between bed-sharing and sleep quality is both scarce and contradictory.
Most studies have compared co-sleep to individual sleep in couples by only measuring body movements.
In the study, the team conducted the study among 12 young, healthy, heterosexual couples who spent four nights in the sleep laboratory.
They measured sleep parameters both in the presence and absence of the partner using dual simultaneous polysomnography, which is a very exact, detailed, and comprehensive method to capture sleep on many levels — from brain waves to movements, respiration, muscle tension, movements, heart activity.
The results showed that rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep is both increased and less disrupted in couples sleeping together compared to when they slept individually.
This finding is particularly relevant because REM sleep, which is associated with vivid dreams, has been linked to emotion regulation, memory consolidation, social interactions, and creative problem-solving.
The team also found that couples synchronize their sleep patterns when sleeping together.
This synchronization, which is not linked to the fact that partners disturb each other during the night, is positively associated with relationship depth.
In order words, the higher participants rated the significance of their relationship to their life, the stronger the synchronization with their partner.
The researchers propose a positive feedback loop in which sleeping together enhances and stabilizes REM sleep, which in turn improves our social interactions and reduces emotional stress.
Interestingly, researchers found an increased limb movement in couples who share the bed. However, these movements do not disrupt sleep architecture, which remains unaltered.
The team says this research furthers the understanding of sleep in couples and its potential implication for mental health.
One author of the study is Dr. Henning Johannes Drews.
The study is published in Frontiers in Psychiatry.
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