FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Happy couples apparently make good bedfellows. New research says that when happy couples sleep together, they tend to have more — and less disrupted — rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
The REM phase of sleep is when you dream, and it’s been linked to emotion regulation, memory consolidation and creative problem-solving, the researchers said.
“There is — even in the medical community — the notion that if you sleep with a partner, you might subjectively think that you slept well or better, but objectively, your sleep is more disturbed,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Henning Drews, a resident and post-doctoral scholar at the Center for Integrative Psychiatry in Kiel, Germany.
But, he noted that the current study found that “if you want to share a bed with your partner, there is nothing to be said against it. It might even be very good for you.”
For the study, 12 young, healthy couples between 18 and 29 years old volunteered to spend four nights in a sleep lab. They had been sleeping together most nights for at least three months.
For two nights, the couples slept in different rooms. On another two nights, they slept together. Half of the group started apart, while the other half started the study together.
Using polysomnography, the researchers simultaneously measured what went on during sleep in each partner. Polysomnography provides comprehensive measurements during sleep, including brain waves, breathing, movements, muscle tension and heart activity.
Based on their answers to a relationship questionnaire, the couples appeared to have very strong bonds.
When they slept together, both partners spent more time in REM sleep than when they slept apart — and their REM sleep was less disrupted. Interestingly, they also moved their limbs more often when sharing a bed, but this didn’t seem to disrupt REM sleep.
The researchers also found that sleep patterns appeared to synchronize when couples slept together. How closely they did so appeared to be linked to the strength of a couple’s relationship.
There are likely at least two reasons why couples sleep better together, Drews said.