For married people, when their spouse goes on a little vacation, a heartfelt “I miss you” may be said out loud, but in the silence, there is a thrill of having the bed to yourself.
Plenty of room to stretch out and give way to blatant flatulence.
According to a new study, adults who share a bed with a partner or spouse “most nights” generally sleep better than those who sleep alone.
The researchers of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona say the benefits include “less severe insomnia, less fatigue, and more time to sleep than those who never share a bed with a partner.”
Those who slept with a partner “also fell asleep faster, stayed asleep longer after falling asleep, and had a lower risk of sleep apnea.”
The study involved an analysis of data collected in the Sleep and Health Activity, Diet, Environment, and Socialization (SHADES) survey of 1,007 adults of working age.
SHADES is an ongoing study from the Penn Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology that examines the links between sleep and diet and exercise, neighborhoods, work, and home demands.
Bed sharing was evaluated with surveys, and sleep health factors were assessed with common tools such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Insomnia Severity Index, and STOP-BANG Apnea Score.
Not so great with kids
In the Arizona study, the benefits of adults sharing a bed were profound. It is believed that these were successful relationships.
The study found that sleeping with a partner was “associated with lower scores for depression, anxiety, and stress, and greater social support and life and relationship satisfaction.”
However, participants who slept with their child most nights reported greater insomnia severity, greater risk of sleep apnea, and less control over their sleep. Sleeping with children was also associated with more stress.
The news wasn’t good for lone sleepers: Sleeping alone was associated with “higher depression scores, lower social support, and poorer life and relationship satisfaction.”
“Few research studies investigate this, but our findings suggest that whether we sleep alone or with a partner, family member, or pet can affect our sleep health,” said senior study author Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the Arizona sleep program.
What about dogs and cats?
Much research has been done on people who sleep with their pets.
A 2021 study from Central Queensland University found that half of the Australian dog owners shared their beds with dogs, and a further 20 percent shared their bedrooms, with the dog believed to be sleeping on the floor.
This was shown in a large survey of 1,136 dog owners.
The researchers found, “The likelihood of dog bed sharing increased with participant’s age and bed size and was higher for individuals with small dogs than those with larger dogs.”
Dog bedding was “more common in individuals who did not have a human bed partner”.
The researchers concluded: “It seems unlikely that bed-sharing will negatively affect sleep quality in any meaningful way. In many cases, dog(s) in bed can provide a more restful night’s sleep than sleeping elsewhere.”
A 2018 study of adult women found that having a dog in the bed was more associated with comfort and safety than sleeping with another person or a cat.
A 2011 study examined a series of infectious diseases that jumped from a pet into the bed and into the human owner. Among the horrors conveyed under the duvet were cases of bubonic plague.