Sleeping with your partner may give 'extra boost' to mental health, memory and problem-solving skills: Expert
Researchers found that couples who shared a bed had a better quality of rapid eye movement sleep (REM), a phase associated with dreaming
A good relationship with your partner appears to reflect on your sleep. A new study found that couples who shared a bed for a good night's slumber had a better quality of rapid eye movement sleep (REM), a phase associated with dreaming. A night of good REM sleep helps build better memory, mood, and attention spans. A poor quality, on the other hand, is linked with Alzheimer’s disease and depression. REM sets in 90 minutes after falling asleep and alternates between four other stages of deep and light slumber.
The study found that co-sleeping among partners is associated with a better amount of REM phase. Contrarily, couples who slept separately had more fragmented or disturbed REM. What is more, partners who shared a bed were more prone to have synced sleeping patterns. The researchers saw a link between a good relationship and sleep synchronization, suggesting a fulfilling bond between couples. Partnerships might protect people from mental illness, and some researchers think that sleep may mediate it.
"Sleeping with a partner might actually give you an extra boost regarding your mental health, your memory, and creative problem-solving skills," Dr Henning Johannes Drews, a doctor of medicine at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry, Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, Germany, told CNN. The study included 12 heterosexual and healthy couples. These participants spent four nights on two consecutive weekends in the sleep laboratory. The researches tracked their sleep quality using polysomnography, a test which records data on patterns: REM and other phases of sleep.
The researchers also monitored the brain and heart activity, blood oxygen levels, and limb movements. To study the differences, half of the couples were assigned to sleep alone while the rest had company. They found that co-sleeping couples had 10% more REM sleep, which was also less fragmented than those who slept alone. Co-sleeping partners frequently moved their limbs, compared to their counterparts. However, these increased movements did not hinder the quality of sleep, and the REM quality remained positive and stable. "One could say that while your body is a bit unrulier when sleeping with somebody, your brain is not," Drews told CNN.
The co-author of the study explained that the link between co-sleeping and REM quality has its roots in evolution. "From an evolutionary perspective, sleep is definitely a social state. If you look at many primates, more traditional societies, or historic accounts for European societies, sleeping with others is very common. Thus, for ages sleep and sociality were tied together and I think it is logical that by cutting that tie (e.g., by sleeping alone) one might find an effect on sleep," co-author Dr Drews told Newsweek. The study, however, does not suggest that people cannot sleep well if they are alone. If your partner disturbs your sleep, then you are much more relaxed if you sleep alone."That is probably the best sleeping arrangement for you," Henning added.