Chandler: All right, I have one. Janice likes to cuddle at night, which I’m all for. But, you know, when you want to go to sleep, you want some space. So how do I tell her that without, you know, accidentally calling her fat or something?
Rachel: Sorry, honey. [cutesy, kissing Ross] We can’t help you there, because we’re cuddly sleepers.
Friends, Episode 303 ‘The One with the Jam’
We’re not all cuddly sleepers but did you know there are some surprising benefits of cuddling in bed?
Fall in love with cuddling in bed
Some evidence shows that couples who sleep together not only stay together but stay happier and healthier too. Sharing a bed is the ultimate intimacy and research suggests that sleeping close and cuddling increases oxytocin (the ‘love’ hormone) which helps to lower stress hormones, making you feel calmer and encourages feelings of safety and security – leading to less interrupted sleep.
When your stress levels are down, your blood pressure is lower too which is good for heart health.
Cuddles also releases serotonin – the happy hormone. Serotonin carries messages between neurones and other cells, and when levels are decreased, individuals can feel anxious, depressed and crave carbohydrates. At nighttime, serotonin undergoes metabolic changes to become melatonin, the chemical that induces sleep.
There are a few different cuddling positions from the spoon, half spoon to the bum-touching, the full embrace and the hug at arm’s length!
It may sound romantic to fall asleep wrapped in the arms of a loved one, but did you know around 50% of sleep disturbance comes from sharing a bed?
If you find your sleep is disrupted on a regular basis by a snoring partner, a duvet hogger or a bed companion who frequently tosses and turns it may be worth considering a bigger bed or even separate bedrooms.
Some much-needed tips on sharing a bed
- Both partners going to bed at the same time at least three nights a week. Different body clocks mean many couples tuck up at different times – alarm bells should sound when that starts to happen every night of the week.
- Ensure the shared bed is comfortable for both partners and not just suited to one. Be sure to shop together for a new bed and get one that suits both people. Modern technology means even couples with different preferences can find a bed that suits them both thanks to zip-and-link or zoned mattresses.
- Where duvet hogging is an issue, separate single duvets can work wonders.
- Separate duvets can also work for bed sharers who have different temperature requirements. As a comfortable temperature (between 18 and 24 degrees centigrade) is essential to a good night’s sleep, individual duvets with a tog rating suited to each partner will put an end to heated debates of the ‘too warm, too cold’ nature.
- Buy as big a bed as budget and room size allow. A standard double bed is only 4’6” wide which gives each person just the width of a baby’s cot to sleep in. More room means less partner disturbance.
- Ensure the bedroom is an oasis of calm and tranquillity – i.e. no tellies or any other technology likely to distract attention away from sleep and intimacy.
- Make sure window coverings effectively block out the light. Long summer days may be welcome in many ways but light can have a detrimental effect on body clocks and sleeping patterns.
- Develop a bedtime routine that works for both people. Body clocks need regularity and routine for successful sleep – share a warm milky or herbal drink or even a bath together before going to bed. And try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day.
- Remember that caffeine, alcohol, smoking and exercising or eating too close to bedtime can all make it more difficult to grab a great night’s sleep.
- When snoring becomes a significant and ongoing problem, seek help. What starts off as a niggle can become a major issue for many couples – so get it sorted!
- ‘Roll together’ is a sure sign the shared bed has had its day and needs replacing. It may be a charming characteristic in the early, heady days of a relationship but, like snoring, it’s one that all too soon wears extremely thin. A new bed will end the bickering.
Sometimes nothing beats curling up in bed cuddling your partner – before kicking them out to go to sleep in the spare bedroom!