Research has once proven that married couples are more likely to live healthier, happier, and longer than their unmarried counterparts. But aside from companionship, having children, and growing a family, a group of researchers found another reason for this. According to them, it could be because of sleeping together.
Why sleep together?
Having someone to share a life with is one of the most rewarding things that can happen to any person. Waking up in the morning with your true love could be a delightful experience. But for some married couples, sharing a bed isn’t a good idea. It is estimated that one in four married couples don’t sleep together with their partner. Snoring, sweating, and stealing sheets are some of the most common reasons why. But there’s an emerging scientific claim that says sleeping together has several health benefits that can outweigh the little discomforts brought by sleeping together.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S. carried out a study to determine the effects of sleeping together by long-term partners. They found that sleeping together helps lower down the cortisol level – a hormone that’s responsible for the feeling of stress. The researchers believe that this could be because sleeping together promotes a feeling of security and safety.
According to Wendy Troxel, one of the researchers and an assistant professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University said that sleep is critically important health behaviour. Previous research revealed that high levels of cortisol for a longer time is linked to an increase in cytokines – inflammation-inducing proteins that can trigger depression, heart problems, and auto-immune disorders.
Sleeping together to Improve ‘Love Hormones’
Sharing a bed is also believed to improve the production of oxytocin, the so called ‘love hormone’ which stimulates bonding feelings. Although this hormone is said to be released during sexual intercourse, Dr David Hamilton, a scientist who studied the effects of oxytocin in the body said it can also be produced when couples cuddle in bed or do some ‘pillow talk’. This hormone strengthens the bond between couples and makes their relationship deeper and more meaningful.
But aside from this, oxytocin has other vital roles to one’s health. Experts from the Malmo University Hospital in Sweden found that people with lower levels of oxytocin had poorer gastric motility. This process happens when the food is moved from the stomach to the intestine. Problems in gastric mobility are linked to poor digestion. Dr Hamilton also linked lack of oxytocin to irritable bowel syndrome.
It’s also found to reduce inflammation which may trigger bacterial infections and chronic illnesses.
Other studies have linked oxytocin to a healthy heart. For instance, in the research by the University of North Carolina involving 59 couples, each couple was asked to record the number of hugs they received for a certain period of time. The scientists found out that those who had more hugs had the highest oxytocin in their blood. These couples experienced lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Sleeping together also helps couples become familiar with the sleeping patterns of their partners which help them easily determine arising problems.
Dealing with ‘sleeping discomforts’
Sharing a bed could mean a lot of discomfort for many couples. But there are ways to reduce such discomfort and have a good night sleep. One of the most common problems experienced by couples is the mismatched sleeping pattern. One seems to sleep early while the other doesn’t. This problem can be addressed by going to bed at the same time; the ‘night owl’ may leave the room after a while and come back later. Having separate blankets and pillows is also important so one doesn’t disturb the other and no more ‘stealing sheets’. Addressing minor relationship issues before they become critical is important. When couples are in bad terms, they are not likely to sleep together.
As couples start sleeping together in the same bed, they will find it easy to sacrifice going through a bit of discomfort in exchange of a happy, longer, and more intimate relationship.