Fighting over the duvet and lying sleepless while your partner snores like a steam train might not feel particularly good for your health, but new research suggests you’re better off sharing your bed than heading for the sofa.
[Related story: Why you're always tired]
A review of sleep studies published in the Wall Street Journal found that within committed, happy relationships, sleeping in the same bed was good for both partners’ psychological health and that this leads to better physical health.
The researchers suggest that sleeping in the same bed promotes feelings of safety and security, which lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boost oxytocin, the “cuddle chemical”. Studies have also found a lower level of cytokines, which cause inflammation, improving general health. The evidence suggests that together this lowers the risk of heart diseases and depression and even reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases for couples that share a bed.
Even though moving about can disrupt each other’s sleep, experts suggest the benefits outweigh the annoyances. “The psychological benefits we get having closeness at night trump the objective costs of sleeping with a partner," says sleep researcher Dr. Wendy Troxel.
The study admits that things can get more complicated when body clocks are misaligned, causing friction in the relationship and sleeplessness for one or both partners. One study in the review showed that those couples who slept at different times were more likely to argue, had slightly less sex and did fewer activities together.
So start working on getting your sleep cycles in sync, as it could make you closer, happier and healthier.