The Surprising Way That Sharing A Bed Affects Your Sleep Quality
Splitting the bed with a partner comes with its pros (cuddling) and cons (kicking). This might leave bed sharers wondering: Would I sleep better or worse if I was snoozing alone? Consider this research your answer.
Studying how your bed partner affects your sleep.
For a recent study published in the journal Sleep, a University of Arizona team analyzed the sleep patterns of just over 1,000 adult participants from southeastern Pennsylvania. They were asked how often they share a bed (with either a partner/spouse, child/children, pets, or another family member) and how often they sleep solo. They also answered questionnaires that measured sleep quality and duration, mood, stress levels, and relationship and life satisfaction.
After crunching the numbers, researchers determined that those who usually shared a bed with a romantic partner tended to report longer and deeper sleep and less fatigue than those who slept alone most nights. They also fell asleep faster and woke up fewer times during the night on average.
Interestingly enough, though, the opposite was true for those who shared the bed with their kids. They reported more disrupted sleep and less control over their sleep, as well as more stress than solo sleepers.
Besides these sleep metrics, adults who slept alongside a partner reported a better mood, less stress, and greater social support and satisfaction with life and relationships. It's unclear how interruptions from your partner, like loud snoring, affect these findings. However, the University of Arizona team notes that this data shows just how much your bedmate can affect your snooze.
"Very few research studies explore this, but our findings suggest that whether we sleep alone or with a partner, family member, or pet may affect our sleep health," study author Michael Grandner, Ph.D., said in a news release. "We were very surprised to find out just how important this could be."
If you share the bed with a partner, this research is one reason to hug them extra tight tonight. And if you're someone who often lets your kids snuggle with you, it's a gentle nudge to help them get used to their own bed—for the sake of everyone's sanity.
Finally, it's important to remember that there are plenty of ways that anyone—bedmate or not—can set themselves up for a solid snooze. Experts agree that some of the most important habits are sticking to a regular sleep schedule (bedtime and wake up time); avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and heavy food before bed; powering down electronics and dimming the lights early; and keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Topping off your nightly routine with a sleep-promoting supplement like mbg's sleep support+ can also help you unwind quickly.* Lastly, squashing any lingering stress—be it by squeezing a partner or writing in a journal—will help clear your mind for restorative rest worth sharing.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.