Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter
While sharing beds was once a practical decision, it has become a byword for relationship intimacy. Many couples find sleeping easier if they share each other’s company overnight.
Close contact leads to the body releasing the hormone oxytocin, which enables us to relax and fall asleep.
Sharing a bed with somebody we love and trust magnifies the impact of oxytocin, which matters as our subconscious understands how vulnerable we are when asleep.
Don’t grow overly dependent on sharing a bed for sleep. There are many occasions where couples can’t sleep together, either for one night, several nights, or permanently.
Married couples once shared beds due to the expense of furniture and having many children in small homes. However, sharing a bed is now considered the embodiment of intimacy in a relationship.
Today, many couples choose to share a bed as a bonding exercise. Humans are evolved primates, and like our simian ancestors, we form complex pair bonds based on mutual affection.
Thankfully, the benefits of sharing a bed justify the choices we make.
Inviting a partner into your bed overnight – or a pet, although there are many reasons not to sleep with your dog – brings comfort to millions of people.
What Happens When You Sleep Next to Someone?
Sleeping next to a partner releases oxytocin (the love hormone). This chemical compound begins in the human brain and floods the body with positive emotions and endorphins.
Oxytocin release isn’t the sole reserve for sleeping with an established partner.
Contact with any human has the same effect. The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences explains how basic empathy toward a stranger can release the hormone.
Sleeping alongside someone we love and trust has a more significant impact on oxytocin release. In addition to the release of hormones, you’ll feel more secure and contented.
Sharing a bed with a loved one also creates a comforting sense of ritual that aids sleep. We grow used to the shape and scent of somebody else in our bed, which informs the brain that it’s time for bed.
Of course, this could have negative implications. As discussed by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we can grow dependent on the company of a loved one before we can sleep.
Does Sleeping Together Make You Closer?
Based on everything discussed, sharing a bed and sleeping with a partner makes us closer. Unfortunately, sleeping together isn’t a miracle cure for relationship problems.
Sleep Medicine Reviews explains that the quality of sleep in a shared bed is directly related to the strength of a relationship. If you’re prone to arguments with your spouse during the day, don’t expect sleeping together to rectify these concerns.
Sharing a bed with somebody you harbor simmering resentments toward may keep you up at night. If so, you’re better off sleeping in separate rooms until any differences have been resolved.
Why Does It Feel Good to Sleep Next To Someone?
Sharing a bed with a partner releases chemicals that lead to a contented night.
There’s more to sleeping in the same bed than just science. Many can also identify tangible physical and emotional rewards for cuddling under a duvet.
Perhaps you’re considering whether you feel comfortable sharing a bed with a new partner or are planning to begin sharing your bed and want to be sure you’re doing the right thing.
We have different body temperatures than our partners. Sleeping in a cool room is recommended for a good night’s sleep. If you’re prone to feeling the cold, this may be unappealing.
A solution would be to introduce an artificial heat source, like a hot water bottle or heated blanket. However, if you share a bed with a partner, this may be unnecessary.
Sharing body heat through cuddling in bed has the same effect, with the bonus of releasing hormones. The calming influence of oxytocin and a comfortable body temperature help with sleep.
Sense of Security
Sharing a bed, knowing that somebody is alongside us, assuages the vulnerability we feel while sleeping.
How secure you feel depends on the partner. Sharing a bed only feels safe and secure if you trust the person you sleep beside. You’re likelier to rest well in a strong relationship built on mutual trust.
Intimacy Increases Sleep Quality
Romantic partners don’t just use a bed for sleeping. In many respects, sex and sleep quality are linked. Regular intimacy before sleeping alongside a partner often leads to better sleep.
According to the Frontiers in Public Health, intercourse is a novel way to combat insomnia.
The explanation is the release of oxytocin and prolactin during sex. While this hormone is more readily associated with lactation in pregnant women, its core function involves promoting REM sleep.
Anybody, regardless of gender, is likely to feel relaxed and sleepy in the aftermath.
Of course, you don’t need to share a bed to enjoy intimacy with a partner. You’re likelier to sleep well if you embrace the hormonal release by sleeping together, especially if you sleep without clothing.
If you can’t sleep beside a partner, spend the night in separate rooms and reconvene for intimacy. According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, women welcome intercourse after a good night’s sleep.
Mastering REM sleep means you’re likelier to enjoy positive mental health in your waking life. Unregulated REM sleep is linked to anxiety and depression, impacting sleep ability.
There are many health benefits to sharing a bed, including the following:
- Oxytocin helps you fall asleep sooner, so you’re likelier to enjoy 8 hours of rest.
- Another side effect of oxytocin is cortisol suppression. Sleeping alongside a partner may control anxiety, preventing high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Sharing a bed means sharing everything, including germs, leading to a stronger immune system.
Sleeping with a partner will usually make you healthier and happier.
Why Can I Not Sleep in A Bed With A Partner?
Despite these reasons to sleep alongside somebody you love, some people can’t make this work.
Don’t worry if you struggle to fall asleep beside a partner – it’s a common concern. It doesn’t mean that you’re heartless or your relationship is doomed.
The popularity of sleeping in separate rooms has led to the term “sleep divorce” entering the lexicon. This is the term for partners in a happy relationship opting to sleep in separate rooms for uninterrupted rest.
Common reasons for sleeping in separate rooms include:
- One or both partners snore.
- You keep disparate hours, retiring to bed and rising at different times.
- One partner is prone to taking the bedsheets, leaving the other cold.
- Varying preferences in room temperature or decor for sleeping.
- General discomfort with sharing space in a bed.
Chronobiology International recommends that all couples engage in a dialog about sleeping arrangements to determine whether sharing a bed is mutually beneficial.
If you and your partner share a bed, you should enjoy quality sleep and reap the benefits in the morning. There are significant rewards to sharing a bed if you can make it work for both parties.