Sharing a bed isn’t just crucial to a healthy marriage, it’s also the key to a healthy body and mind.
That’s according to a study that found adults who sleep together enjoy a myriad of physical and mental health benefits over those who sleep alone.
It comes despite a growing number of couples choosing to sleep in separate rooms for a better night’s kip, including celebrities like Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones and her husband.
US researchers found that not only does sleeping together improve sleep quality, it also lowers the risk of depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue.
Couples who bunk together also feel closer to their partner emotionally, more secure in their relationship and have better overall life satisfaction.
Dr Michael Grandner, a sleep expert at the University of Arizona who led the study, said he was ‘very surprised to find out just how important this could be’.
Sharing a bed isn’t just crucial to a healthy marriage, it’s also the key to a healthy body and mind. That’s according to a study that found adults who sleep together enjoy a myriad of physical and mental health benefits over those who sleep alone
It comes despite a growing number of couples choosing to sleep in separate rooms for a better night’s kip, including celebrities like Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones and her husband Laurence Akers (pictured together at An Audience with Adele, London Palladium, November 2021)
The research involved analysing data from 1,000 working-age men and women from Pennsylvania.
They were asked detailed questions about their sleep, health and life quality in the past month.
Researchers also looked at the effect of sleeping with children or other family members.
People who ‘never’ slept with a partner or spouse were more likely to suffer insomnia than those who did ‘most nights’.
Couples who shared a bed also got better quality sleep and were less likely to suffer fatigue.
Sleeping alone was associated with higher depression scores, lower social support, and worse life and relationship satisfaction.
Reality TV personality Vicky Pattison revealed last year that she and fiance Ercan Ramadan sleep in separate beds (pictured together at the national Television Awards in London in September 2021)
HOW MUCH SLEEP SHOULD I GET?
Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night.
Going to bed and getting up at a similar time each night programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.
But few people manage to stick to strict bedtime patterns.
To get to sleep easier, the NHS advises winding down, such as by taking a bath, reading and avoiding electronic devices.
The health service also recommends keeping the bedroom sleep-friendly by removing TVs and gadgets from the room and keeping it dark and tidy.
For people who struggle to sleep, the NHS says keeping a sleep diary can uncover lifestyle habits or activities that contribute to sleepiness.
Writing in the paper, the team said: ‘Sleeping with a partner/spouse is associated with better sleep quality and mental health overall.’
Meanwhile, those who slept with their child ‘most nights’ reported higher rates of insomnia, stress and sleep apnea risk.
People who slept with other family members were more sleepy during the day and got poorer sleep quality at night.
Previous research has suggested that sleeping with a romantic partner allows the body to relax and get longer deep sleep.
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep plays an important role in emotional processing, hormone levels and healthy muscle and brain development.
If this is regularly disrupted – for example by a young child – it can lead to a host of health problems.
Dr Grandner said: ‘Very few research studies explore this, but our findings suggest that whether we sleep alone or with a partner, family member may impact our sleep health. We were very surprised to find out just how important this could be.’
Brandon Fuentes, a researcher in the department of psychiatry at Arizona and co-lead author, said: ‘Sleeping with a romantic partner or spouse shows to have great benefits on sleep health including reduced sleep apnea risk, sleep insomnia severity, and overall improvement in sleep quality.’
An excerpt from the study has been published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and was presented at a US sleep conference this week.
The full results will be published later this year.
The results come amid a growing trend of couples who swear by sleeping in separate rooms.
Suranne Jones revealed in 2020 that she and her husband, screenwriter Laurence Akers, sleep apart.
And reality TV personality Vicky Pattison revealed last year that she and fiance Ercan Ramadan sleep in separate beds.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were rumoured to be living in entirely separate buildings on the same estate in 2009.
HOW TO COPE WITH SLEEP PROBLEMS
Poor sleep can lead to worrying and worrying can lead to poor sleep, according to the mental-health charity Mind.
A lack of shut eye is considered a problem when it impacts on a person’s daily life.
As a result, they may feel anxious if they believe lack of sleep prevents them from rationalising their thoughts.
Insomnia is also associated with depression, psychosis and PTSD.
Establishing a sleep routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time every day can help a person spend less time in bed and more time asleep.
Calming music, breathing exercises, visualising pleasant memories and meditation also encourage shut eye.
Having tech-free time an hour or so before bed can also prepare you for sleep.
If you still struggle to nod off, keeping a sleep diary where you record the hours you spend asleep and the quality of your shut eye on a scale of one to five can be a good thing to show your doctor.
Also note how many times you wake in the night, if you need to nap, if you have nightmares, your diet and your general mood.
Sleep problems can be a sign of an underlying physical condition, like pain.
Talking therapies can help your recongise unhelpful thought patterns that might affect sleep.
While medication, such as sleeping pills, can help break short periods of insomnia and help you return to better a sleeping pattern.