To Sleep Better, Partner Up

Research says health benefits outweigh disruptions

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 5, 2012 9:11 AM CDT | Updated Jun 9, 2012 12:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – The snoring, the sheet-stealing, the random kicks: Sleeping with a partner may sound like bad news, but the Wall Street Journal reports that it might actually be good for your health. Writing for the Journal, Andrea Petersen notes that some recent studies' findings "run counter" to previous ones indicating that women get better sleep when solo and both men and women move around more when slumbering as a duo. She points to a 2009 study that followed women for six to eight years and found that those who were in a long-term relationship during that time nodded off more quickly and woke up less frequently than their always- or sometimes-single counterparts.

Petersen points out that the "science is in the early stages," but reports on potential theories behind the observations: that sleeping as a pair increases feelings of security, raises anxiety-reducing oxytocin, and reduces cytokines, which play a role in inflammation. Says the researcher, "The psychological benefits we get having closeness at night trump the objective costs of sleeping with a partner." And sleep-related companies are cashing in on couples dealing with those objective costs, with mattresses that stop motion from one side to the other and comforters whose two halves have different thicknesses, for instance.

Sharing a bed can hurt your sleep, but research shows it helps your overall health even more.
Sharing a bed can hurt your sleep, but research shows it helps your overall health even more.   (Shutterstock)
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