For married people, when their spouse goes on vacation, there may be a sincere “I miss you” spoken out loud, but in the quiet there is a thrill of having the bed to yourself.
Plenty of room to stretch out and give way to flatulence without shame.
However, overall, according to a new study, adults who share a bed with a partner or spouse “most nights” sleep better than those who sleep alone.
The researchers, from the University of Arizona Sleep and Health Research Program, say the benefits include “less severe insomnia, less fatigue and more sleep time than those who never shared a bed with a partner”.
Those who slept with a partner “also fell asleep faster, stayed asleep longer after falling asleep, and were at lower risk of sleep apnea.”
The study involved an analysis of data collected through the SHADES (Sleep and Health, Activity, Diet, Environment and Socialization) study of 1,007 working-age adults.
SHADES is an ongoing study from the Penn Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology investigating the links between sleep and diet and exercise, neighborhoods, work, and household demands.
Bed sharing was assessed using surveys and sleep health factors were assessed using common tools such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Sleep Severity Index insomnia and the STOP-BANG apnea score.
Not great with kids
In the Arizona study, the benefits of adults sharing a bed were profound. It is assumed that these were fruitful relationships.
The study found that sleeping with a partner was “associated with lower depression, anxiety and stress scores, as well as greater social support and satisfaction with life and relationships. “.
However, participants who slept with their child most nights “reported greater severity of insomnia, greater risk of sleep apnea, and less control over their sleep.” Sleeping with children was also associated with more stress.
For single sleepers, the news wasn’t good: Sleeping alone was associated with “higher depression scores, lower social support, and lower life and relationship satisfaction.”
“Very few research studies explore this, but our findings suggest that sleeping alone or with a partner, family member or pet can impact our sleep health,” said l. lead author of the study, Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the sleep program at Arizona.
What about dogs and cats?
There is an amazing amount of research on people who sleep with their pets.
A 2021 study from Central Queensland University found that half of Australian dog owners shared their bed with dogs, and a further 20% shared their bedroom, with the dog presumably sleeping on the floor.
This came from an extensive survey of 1136 dog owners.
The researchers found: “The likelihood of sharing a bed with a dog increased with participant age and bed size and was higher for people with small dogs than for those with larger dogs.
Sharing the bed with a dog was “more common among people who did not have a human bed partner”.
The researchers concluded: “It seems unlikely that bedsharing negatively impacts sleep quality in any significant way. In fact, in many cases, the dog(s) in the bed can facilitate a more restful night’s sleep than when sleeping elsewhere.
A 2018 study of adult women found that having a dog in bed was more associated with comfort and safety than sleeping with another person or a cat.
A 2011 study investigated a range of infectious diseases that jumped from a pet in the bed and into the human owner. Among the horrors transmitted under the covers were cases of bubonic plague.