Couples that sleep together sleep better, study finds

If you want a better night sleep, sleep together, researchers say. (Getty Images)
If you want a better night sleep, sleep together, researchers say. (Getty Images)

There are many reasons couples might decide to sleep in separate beds, from different sleeping patterns to looking after the children.

New research has found that even though this might be a good idea on a practical level, couples that sleep together sleep more deeply than those who don’t.

It’s rapid eye movement (REM) that is both increased and less disrupted among couples who sleep together. It’s REM sleep that contributes to us feeling nice and refreshed in the morning - our deepest level of sleep.

The researchers at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in Germany studied couples over four nights in a sleep laboratory.

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The study was able to drill down on some of the more specific aspects of our sleeping patterns to find out exactly what type of sleep people had, with and without their partners.

It measured everything from “brain waves to movements, respiration, muscle tension, movements and heart activity”, lead researcher, Dr. Henning Johannes Drews explained.

In addition, couples were asked to fill out questionnaires to determine what sort of relationships they each had.

REM sleep is certainly a positive part of the sleep cycle, it’s associated with everything from emotion regulation to creative problem solving.

That said, you can see how couples might’ve slept better together than apart when in a laboratory setting - it doesn’t scream relaxing retreat.

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That wasn’t the only interesting finding, though.

Researchers found that some couples who slept together synchronised their sleep patterns to match each other. Couples who can do this in everyday life tend to have more emotional depth to their relationship than those who can’t, the study found.

To put it simply, those who rated their relationship highly were more likely to synchronise their sleep cycles with their partners.

The researchers were in agreement that those who could sleep together would benefit in the long-term from all the positives associated for REM sleep.

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One other rather amusing anecdote to come out of the research was the increased limb movement of those who slept together versus those who didn’t.

“One could say that while your body is a bit unrulier when sleeping with somebody, your brain is not,” Dr Drew admitted.

How else are we meant to drag the covers from one side of the bed to the other?

Researchers were positive about the study, commenting that further studies can now begin to determine just how much sleeping with your partner impacts mental health.

“Sleeping with a partner might actually give you an extra boost regarding your mental health, your memory, and creative problem-solving skills,” Dr Drew concluded.