For all things of love and sleep. How sleeping with someone you love changes your brain chemistry.
Many factors can affect a good night’s sleep. Things like work, medication, or mental health disorders such as depression have been known factors to decline sleep in the human body. But what factors actually improve sleep? One might be surprised to hear that sharing a bed with a loved one or partner can actually improve sleep in both individuals. There are many beneficial effects of sleep like memory functioning and mental health. Creating an environment in which one can get the best night’s sleep is ideal. An easy way to improve sleep might be easier for most than originally thought. In this blog article, we are going to share what recent research experts in Germany have discovered.
Research on the influence of co-sleeping is not a new endeavor or study. Most previous sleep studies only took into consideration body movement, but Dr. Henning Johannes Drews of the Center for Integrative Psychiatry and his colleagues study the effects of co-sleeping by monitoring both the subjective and objective sleep parameters, such as REM cycles. The researchers studied the sleep architecture in couples that shared a bed, in addition to studying their body movements. All subjects had completed pre-study questionnaires to measure different relationship characteristics, like relationship duration and depth. 12 couples were recruited that were in relationships for at least 3 months prior to the study initiated and had a history of co-sleeping with the same partner for the majority of their week. The couples spent four nights in the sleep laboratory. The researchers measured sleep parameters both in the presence and absence of the partner using dual simultaneous polysomnography.
The study demonstrated that sleeping with someone you love has a positive impact on your sleep: couples who share a bed at night get at least 10% more REM sleep each night. Not only do they experience an increase in REM sleep, but REM is more continuous when couples sleep together than separate. From previous sleep studies, we know that when REM sleep is stabilized it improves an individual’s overall social interactions and reduces emotional stress. Although not quantified proven in the research, Dr. Drews says that “since these are well known effects of REM sleep, it is very likely that they would be observed if testing for them”.
Another interesting finding was that sleeping with a partner causes people to synchronize their sleep patterns. This synchronization is not linked to the partners disturbing each other, but rather a connected intimacy within the relationship. Couples that ranked higher participation in their relationship had stronger sleep synchronization than couples who reported less relationship participation
Many people who live together in relationships share a bedroom with one another. This sharing of sleeping space with someone you love may improve sleep quality by increasing REM sleep and REM duration. Couples that sleep together regularly also synchronize their sleep patterns, which is reflective of shared intimacy within a relationship. Despite the small study, it is easy to say that if you are looking to improve your overall sleep quality, having a romantic partner might be a good place to start. The term “sharing is caring” truly resonates with this sleep study.
Henning Johannes Drews, Sebastian Wallot, Philip Brysch, Hannah Berger-Johannsen, Sara Lena Weinhold, Panagiotis Mitkidis, Paul Christian Baier, Julia Lechinger, Andreas Roepstorff and Robert Göder, (2020) Bed-Sharing in Couples Is Associated With Increased and Stabilized REM Sleep and Sleep-Stage Synchronization, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00583