Whethere you and your partner share a bed or sleep separately, recent studies have discovered that it can affect your health and intimacy profoundly. Also, find out what your sleep position says about your relationship status
Sharing a bed key to a healthy, happy relationship
Researchers from a reputed American university believe sleeping next to someone helps lower the stress hormone cortisol, perhaps because it encourages feelings of safety and security. They say this is why people in close relationships tend to be in better health and live longer.
All pictures for representational purposes
Prolonged periods of elevated cortisol have been linked with an increase in cytokines — proteins involved in inflammation that can trigger heart disease, depression and autoimmune disorders. Sleeping together has a protective effect by lowering the levels of these proteins.
Sharing a bed is also thought to boost levels of the 'love hormone' oxytocin, known to induce bonding feelings. This is traditionally thought to be released during sex, but scientists, who have examined the role of oxytocin in health have found it’s also associated with cuddling in bed and 'pillow talk'.
Oxytocin plays a vital role in aiding digestion, reveal studies by scientists from Sweden. Those with lower levels had poorer gastric motility — the process by which food is moved from the stomach to the intestines, therefore slowing down digestion.
A recent research conducted in the US recently supports this theory. 59 women, who were married or had partners to keep a diary of the number of hugs they received over a set time. The scientists then analysed levels of oxytocin in the blood. The women who’d received the most hugs had the highest levels of oxytocin — and the lowest blood pressure and heart rates. They findings showed that sharing a bed may definately improve sleep.
In another study, women in long-term stable relationships fell asleep more quickly and woke up less frequently during the night than single women or women who lost or gained a partner during the six to eight years of the study.
But, sleeping apart can be healthy too!
It has emerged that 39 percent of couples believe their relationship is healthier because they have independence in their home life, while five per cent think having separate beds or even bedrooms is one of the main reasons they are so happy together, revealed a survey conducted by a leading home insurance firm. According to the findings, one in 25 couples have even taking a lengthy “sabbatical” from each other. On an average, couples spend 22 hours together during the working week, with nearly half of all couples blaming hectic work schedules for a lack of “quality time” together.
The survey, which questioned more than 1,000 people aged 18 or over, also discovered that 10 percent of men have a “games room,” four percent of women have their own “powder room,” and five percent of people would rather spend a night in with their cat or dog than their partner. Furthermore, one in five couples (19 per cent) regularly eat their evening meal at different times, with one in 10 cooking completely different dishes from each other.
And proving that opposites attract, 15 percent of people describe themselves as the “polar opposite” of their partner, while 44 percent believe having different interests or hobbies makes for a stronger relationship. Those under 25 are the most likely age group to spend time apart, with 21 percent admitting they regularly sleep in a separate bed - followed by the over 55s, at 16 percent.
A quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds regularly go on holiday without their other halves, followed by 15 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds. But only six per cent of over 55s admit to going away without their partner.
Did you know? Sleep can enhance sexual arousal
A good night's sleep not only refreshes you for the day but also gives you an extra edge between the sheets. Each additional hour of sleep increased the likelihood of sexual activity with a partner by 14 percent.
In a study of 171 women conducted by a US medical school, those who obtained more sleep on a given night, experienced greater sexual desire the next day. Sleep was also important for genital arousal, such that women who slept longer on average experienced fewer problems with vaginal arousal than women who obtained less sleep.
On any given night, however, women who were tired ended up being more aroused the next day. But eventually, it catches up to them and their desire drops.
A leading international daily explained some of the main sleep positions and their meaning...
The Spoons (him behind)
You both lie on your sides, him facing your back.
The meaning: He's protective of you and quite traditional. He can get sensual reaching around and caressing every part of you. Beware if you never kiss/cuddle in this sleep position as it may become too platonic.
The Spoons (her behind)
You both lie on your sides, you facing his back.
The meaning: You are very nurturing and the backbone of the relationship. He is not afraid of letting go of responsibilities and you being his emotional anchor. Fab as long as your needs aren't neglected.
Your backs face each other, with a wide gap between them.
The meaning: The intimacy is breaking down and you may be too independent of each other. If being independent suits you both then that's okay, as long as you say a warm goodnight. But be careful you aren't using this position to shut each other out.
One sprawls in a starfish shape, the other faces away, clinging to the edge of the bed.
The meaning: The sprawler dominates your relationship and they might be selfish and unaware of their partner's needs. If you are the one pushed out, ensure you start asserting yourself during the day.
One lies on their back, the other is cradled in the crook of their arm cuddled up to them.
The meaning: The partner on their back provides emotional strength and is happy offering emotional support to the other partner who is more needy.
One lies tucked up in the foetal position, facing the other who is flat on his/her back.
The meaning: The one in the foetal position needs comfort but feels unable to express their needs to their partner, who is oblivious to their needs. Identify what is going wrong and start talking about it.
One lies on their stomach, their fingertips reaching out to their partner who lies on their back or side.
The meaning: The partner reaching out is submissive in the relationship - the power lies with the other partner.
Very cuddled up, with your legs entwined and the erogenous zones snuggled into each other.
The meaning: There is loads of passion and sensuality, and you are probably in the honeymoon phase.