by Dr. Wendy Walsh
We all know that a good night’s sleep can affect our health and our moods. It can make us more effective and energetic during the day and ward off the grouchy monster that sometimes lives inside us. But did you also know that how you sleep with your partner has an impact on the quality of your relationship?
Hugging, touching, and especially eye gazing can give you a boost of love hormones oxytocin and pitocin that increase bonding. Clearly, a great way to set the two of you off to a romantic slumber land. But aside from those heady early weeks of a new sexual relationship, who really has the time or urge for the bonding dance before sleep? For many couples bedtime has become an exhausted flop onto the mattress, knowing the last one there will have to turn out the lights and lock the doors.
Aside from cuddle time, couples’ sleeping position says a lot about their relationship. New research from the Edinburgh International Science Festival found that people’s preferred sleeping position reveals something about their love life. According to the study, most couples sleep back-to-back with spooning following a close second place. And the distance between them is indicative of relationship quality. In the study, 12% of couples spend the night less than an inch apart whilst 2% sleep over 30 inches apart.
“94% of couples who spent the night in contact with one another were happy with their relationship, compared to just 68% of those that didn’t touch,” lead researcher University of Hertfordshire psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman told ScienceDaily.com.
While close contact may indicate a close relationship, other research points to an increasing number of couples who are sleeping in separate beds altogether. Some studies suggest that the number is as high as one-in-four. Does this mean that separate beds or even separate rooms spell doom for a marriage? The answer is… it depends. If the couple has separate sleeping arrangements because of health issues or snoring, getting a good night’s sleep may be the very best thing for their waking relationship, especially if they still schedule intimacy time. But if the nocturnal separation is a symptom of an increasingly distant daytime relationship, alarm bells should go off.
The hallmarks of a healthy relationship include an exchange of care where both partners are welcome to express their needs and get them met, most of the time. Lack of conflict doesn’t always mean a happy relationship. Couples who argue and have good repair skills can be very healthy. But a relationship that has lost all connection, both day and night, could benefit from a dose of good couple’s therapy. Sometimes a simple nightly hug and good-night kiss can go a long way toward repairing a rusty bond.