You and Your Partner’s Sleep and Relationship

couple spooning while sleeping
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At some point, each one of us has shared a bed with a partner. In the earliest stages of the relationship, sleeping next to a loved one can be truly exciting and soothing at the same time. As time passes, each or both of you may start changing your sleeping pattern, behavior, or comfort levels. However, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep remains constant.

Couples’ sleep positions are mostly dictated by what feels comfortable for both people involved. Many people believe in research findings that couples’ sleep positions may indicate relationship health.

Couple Sleeping: the Pros

It is believed that sleeping together has positive effects on couples’ mental health and well-being. True intimacy beyond sexual activity has been found to have positive effects related to:

  • Synchronized heart rhythms
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved REM sleep
  • Better self-esteem

Couple Sleeping: the Cons

Sharing a bed with another individual, basically, means that you are finding yourself in positions, literally and figuratively, new to you. You may eventually find that sleeping with another person may restrict your normal sleep movements and this may cause sleep disturbances, sometimes even pain and stiffness. When a couple has underlying relationship stress, problems with sleeping may also arise.

Sleeping Positions Common among Couples

Psychological research on the meaning of sleep positions among couples is not yet conclusive. Although, a survey among 2000 couples yielded results that seem to support that a couple’s sleep positions could be indicative of how healthy the relationship is.


Spooning is a common sleep position among couples. Both persons lie on their sides, one facing away from the other. Research indicates that, though spooning appears to be an intimate position in itself, the space in between the 2 individuals spooning might indicate the closeness felt in the relationship. If you sleep in a tight spoon, this indicates a genuine closeness felt by both of you.


In this position, both individuals also lie on their sides, but both are facing away from each other. If your bodies are touching one another, this is known as the “cherish position”, while if your bodies are apart, this is referred to as the “liberty position”. If either of you is sleeping in a fetal position while facing away from one another, this could indicate a feeling of anxiety or sensitivity. On the other hand, others believe that sleeping back-to-back is indicative that the couple is secure in the relationship and that there is no constant need for touching to feel reassured.


This refers to when a couple sleeps on opposite sides of the bed, seemingly to stay as far away as they can from each other. This could be due to a recent disagreement, in which case couples are advised to decompress before going to bed. On the other hand, the cliffhanger sleeping position could also have a reasonable explanation behind it. It may be that you and your partner are sleeping in a warm environment that cuddling is uncomfortable.


Sleeping in a “lovers’ knot” or intertwined is a sign of intimacy, especially when you and your partner sleep in a face-to-face embrace and your legs intertwined with each other’s. This may be indicative of a deep closeness.

Getting Better Sleep as a Couple

couple wearing white sleeping while smiling in their bed

Plenty of people suffer from nighttime wakings caused by a restless sleeper for a partner. Sleep disturbances among couples have several factors causing these, most common are snoring and a clash in the couple’s biorhythm and sleep patterns. To a certain degree, your body clock is affected by your environment such as the amount of light your body senses. This may affect the rise and fall of cortisol and melatonin levels in your respective bodies, explaining differences in sleep patterns.

Simple ways to resolve this might include agreeing to better bedtime routines, suitable sleep clothes, or considering sleeping technology involving programmed personalized biorhythm sequences that sets your sleeping environment to optimum levels.

Some behavioral scientists also suggest coming up with separate sleeping arrangements. Though this goes against the grain of what society dictates, nearly 25% of couples have attested to the positive effects of getting a sleep divorce. If you and your partner have been experiencing trouble with co-sleeping to the extent that it affects both your moods or energy throughout the daytime, agree to have an objective, calm conversation about sleeping arrangements that both of you will be comfortable with.

You may not know it, but couples do undergo what scientists refer to as nocturnal interactions that may actually indicate how healthy a relationship is. Sleeping as a couple has various positive effects such as diminished stress, improved sleep, and better self-esteem.

On the other end, differences in biorhythms, relationship adjustments, and other factors may also cause sleep disruption, leading to stressful sleep. Though sleeping positions may indicate a couple’s relationship health, it is important to find ways to adjust together or, if things go unresolved, have a mature discussion about sleeping arrangements for the improvement of the relationship.

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