There are about a zillion things we can all do to improve our sleep quality. Avoid caffeine in the evenings, make sure the room is dark enough, take a warm bath, forget about staring at screens too close to bedtime, do some meditation, drink some herbal tea, count sheep, and so on and so forth.
The above tips can serve as solid advice for some who struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep, but have you ever considered how your relationships with other people may be causing you to lose sleep? A new psychological study shows that people actually sleep better if they sleep beside their partners who make them feel cared for and valued in their relationship.
For the study, 700 adults ages 35 to 86 who were either married or living with a partner had been asked to report on how responsive they felt their partner was to their needs as well as how well they slept at night; 219 participants also had their sleep monitored for a week. Those who reported higher responsiveness from their partners were more likely to have better “restorative” sleep quality.
According to the researchers, people who have responsive partners experience lower levels of anxiety and depression, which leads to improved sleep quality. Restorative sleep depends on feeling safe and free from threat, and while children get this from their parents, romantic partners fill that role during adulthood.
This is the first study to show how partner responsiveness affects sleep behavior, but it certainly isn’t the only one that found links between personal relationships and sleep quality. While this particular study suggests our romantic relationships affect our sleep,another recent study turns it around by saying that our sleep affects our romantic relationships.
Sixty-eight newlywed couples kept diaries to report on their relationship satisfaction and amount of sleep they got for seven days. When they slept for a longer period of time, the participants were more likely to feel more satisfied with their marriage the next day.
WebMD also emphasizes how sleep quality is related to marital satisfaction. Those who are less satisfied in their marriages are more likely to suffer from insomnia, sluggishness during the day and shorter periods spent asleep at night than those who are more satisfied in their marriages.
Although the person you sleep alongside at night may be the primary influencer in terms of how relationships affect sleep quality, it may even be worth looking into relationships with friends, relatives and possible even coworkers that could potentially be adding to stress and anxiety in ways that affect sleep quality. In teenagers at least, research has shown that social ties were of more importance to sleep quality than biological development.
Overall, when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, this research shows that our sense of belonging and connection to others shouldn’t be ignored. Those who feel confident about having partners that they can count on when things get tough are the ones who have naturally lower levels of anxiety, tension and arousal keeping them up at night.
Communicate well with your partner to sleep better, and sleep better to communicate well with your partner. Although it may get challenging as you age, consciously decided to maintain this is well worth it for both you and your partner on all mental, emotional and physical levels of health.