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A good night’s sleep is very important for our overall health and well-being. Not only does it give time to the body to repair itself, but it also helps reduce stress levels, body weight, inflammation, and risk of depression.
A good slumber helps the brain build memories and also helps you remember and process things better. REM sleep, for that matter, is associated with vivid dreams and has been linked to emotion regulation, memory consolidation, social interactions and creative problem solving. In fact, a good night’s sleep can be characterized by reaching the phase of REM sleep.
For the uninitiated, REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep) is a unique phase of sleep, distinguishable by the random and rapid movement of the eyes, accompanied with low muscle tone throughout the body.
But how can you ensure a good night’s sleep with so much stress around?
A recent study suggests that sharing your bed with a spouse or partner can help you sleep better and deeper. This, apparently, can also help you experience enhanced REM sleep rather as compared to those who sleep individually.
Even during times of marital conflict or difference of opinion in life, sleeping together has proven to help solve real-life problems better. So, for all you know, sleeping with your spouse could be your key to a stress-free and active lifestyle!
Here is what the study has to say
Most studies have compared co-sleep to individual sleep in couples by only measuring body movements. However, Dr Henning Johannes Drews and his colleagues from the Center for Integrative Psychiatry (ZIP), Germany, overcame these limitations by also assessing sleep architecture in couples that shared a bed.
They measured parameters both in the presence and absence of the partner using dual simultaneous polysomnography, which according to them is a “very exact, detailed and comprehensive method to capture sleep on many levels — from brain waves to movements, respiration, muscle tension, movements, heart activity”.
Apart from that, the participants answered questionnaires designed to measure the characteristics of the relationship based upon relationship duration, degree of passionate love, and relationship depth, etc.
The team has found that couples synchronize their sleep patterns when they share a bed. This synchronization is not related to the fact that partners disturb each other during the night. In fact, it is positively associated with relationship depth. This implies that the higher participants rated the significance of their relationship in their lives, the stronger was the synchronization with their partners.
Interestingly, researchers observed an increased limb movement in couples who shared a bed. However, these movements do not disrupt sleep architecture; it remains unaltered. “One could say that while your body is a bit unrulier when sleeping with somebody, your brain is not,” explains Dr Drews.
He adds that:
Sleeping with a partner might actually give you an extra boost regarding your mental health, your memory and creative problem-solving skills.
However, the study is yet to answer a lot of questions. The authors wrote in their paper published in the open-access journal Frontiers that, “The first thing that is important to be assessed in the future is whether the partner-effects we found (better REM sleep when together) are also present in a more diverse sample (elderly, or if one partner suffers from a disease).”
The research helps us understand how sleeping patterns can be indicative of the dynamics of a couple’s relationship and its potential implication on their mental health. Who knew one could just grab a pillow and their spouse for little doses of therapy after all!
(With inputs from IANS)