The most important rule regarding beds is that they should be used for two things only- sleep and sex. It’s obvious that this Valentine’s Day you might find yourself and your partner enjoying those activities together in your own bedroom. But is sleeping together really a good idea?
Sleep is an intimate state. It implies vulnerability and requires a safe, calm environment. That’s why sharing a bed is something more than just a simple act of being together. It’s a mark of mutual trust and respect. In fact, in our times it’s often seen as an important token of a serious relationship along with sexual exclusivity or even living together. But even though many of us might see it as a norm, from a historical and scientific standpoint it isn’t necessarily good for you or even your relationship.
Why are we sleeping together anyway?
Sharing a bedroom out of choice is a fairly modern concept. In the past, sleeping together was mostly motivated by the lack of space and poverty. Throughout the history, larger and more affluent homes would often include a separate bedroom for the husband and wife. Yet it was customary for members of lower classes to share the bed with their spouse, or in many cases, even their entire family. Remember how the main character’s family slept all together in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? You get the idea.
As a matter of fact, limited space might be the precise reason that made us switch two bedrooms for one in general. Shared bedrooms gained most popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when more people started to move to the cities, often forced to live in less than desirable conditions.
How the separation can bring you closer
While looking back at the historical habit of sleeping apart we have to take one fact into consideration. In many of the past cultures, marriages were very often not a product of love but pragmatism. And from the pragmatic standpoint, the preference for sleeping alone makes a lot of sense. Modern-day studies show that sharing a bed may lead to around 50% more sleep disturbances than hogging it all to yourself. Furthermore, it also causes partners to experience much less deep sleep than they would get while sleeping alone. Simply put, to get the best quality sleep it’s just better to do it alone.
Moreover, using two beds instead of one is not only good for your health but can also be beneficial for your relationship. A research from the Better Sleep Council found that even up to 33% Americans claim that their partner’s sleep habits negatively impact their own quality of rest. Snoring, movement, distinct bedtimes, and even different temperature preference might all cause a lot of tension and blame. Sleeping alone lets you avoid those problems once and for all. And since improved sleep leads to a better attitude, it also lessens the chances of conflict. While that solution might seem unromantic or even harsh, the freedom that comes with it might be the thing that will bring you closer.
What about the evening snuggle?
Nevertheless, it doesn’t necessarily mean that bed sharing should be dismissed as completely worthless. Sleeping with your partner, especially in the nude, can counteract stress and even depression. Skin to skin touching and cuddling significantly increase the levels of oxytocin. It’s a feel-good hormone that combats the harmful effects of cortisol, reduces blood pressure and might even release pain. It has especially beneficial effects on women – it has been found that going to bed together with their partner makes them view mutual interactions more positively the next day.
Oxytocin is also crucial when it comes to bonding. If none of you gets regularly annoyed by the other’s snoring or movement, being close can actually help you fall asleep thanks to the feeling of safety and security.
To sleep or not to sleep together
The question ‘which option is better?’ is hardly an easy one. It’s important that the choice is made based on your needs, but not only as a couple but also as individuals. If you or your partner can’t bear the nightly habits of the other one so much that you can’t sleep well, there is no point in enduring it. Good sleep is the absolute priority. Being satisfied with your life, let alone your relationship, without getting enough rest isn’t a very likely scenario.
Moreover, sleeping apart shouldn’t mean the end of intimacy and passion. As a matter of fact, even if you aren’t sharing a bed for sleep, using it for sex is more than recommended if you want to make your rest better. It doesn’t only boost aforementioned oxytocin but also helps to release prolactin which is another sleep- friendly hormone that makes you feel groggy and relaxed. Again, it’s even better for women who also experience an estrogen boost that enhances their slumber by extending REM sleep. And if you think that sleeping apart is rare nowadays – think again. A 2013 research conducted by Toronto’s Ryerson University has found that even as many as 30 to 40 percent of couples sleep apart at night.
After all, love isn’t all about being together 24/7. Respect for each other’s needs can go a much longer way than a choice of sleeping arrangement. So, no matter what you decide, make sure that both of you are happy and satisfied with the outcome.
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- K. M. Robinson. 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex. Retrieved from Source
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- S. K. Whitbourne, Ph.D. Which of the 7 Types of Love Relationships Fits Yours? | Psychology Today. Retrieved from Source