Falling In Love Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Sleep

Falling in love is often a euphoric and all-consuming experience. Couples in the throes of that initial phase of a relationship often spend hours thinking about each other. In fact, being in love can make you lose your appetite too. Food becomes the last thing on your mind when you’re planning the next time you see your mate.

While it’s not uncommon for your sleep quality and sleep times to be disrupted when you first fall in love (blame the hormones and sleepless nights talking with your person on the phone), there is also some research that suggests that sleeping next to someone you love can give you better quality sleep and even help you fall asleep faster.

Sleep psychologist, author of “Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep,” and scientific advisor for SleepFoundation.org, Wendy Troxel told Well+Good, “For many people, sleeping with a romantic partner is an opportunity for connection, intimacy and comfort, which can facilitate healthy sleep.” Additionally, a 2022 study published in the journal Sleep found that sleeping next to someone you’re romantically linked with is associated with less fatigue, less insomnia severity, and reduced depression, anxiety, and stress. Does this mean anyone who’s in love will sleep well? Not necessarily.

You have to feel safe around your partner in order to sleep well

According to a 2016 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science led by developmental and social psychologist Emre Selçuk, having a partner who’s responsive to your needs contributes towards better sleep.

We can relate to this from memories of childhood. We probably slept better when we felt safe and didn’t sleep that well when we were worried about monsters under our beds. Something similar happens in adulthood, only in relation to our partners. “Our findings show that individuals with responsive partners experience lower anxiety and arousal, which in turn improves their sleep quality. Having responsive partners who would be available to protect and comfort us should things go wrong is the most effective way for us humans to reduce anxiety, tension, and arousal,” explained Selçuk (via OneBed). Furthermore, a 2019 study published in Personal Relationships found an association between being in love, reduced stress levels, and better sleep.

Some of the same hormones we blamed for keeping you awake when you don’t really need to be are the ones that contribute toward more restful sleep when you share a bed with someone you love, per the experts. When you’re in love, you feel happy and connected to someone. This is an effect of the hormone oxytocin (among others). “Physical closeness with a partner while in bed can stimulate the release of oxytocin, which has been shown to promote a sense of calm and relaxation, which may benefit sleep,” Wendy Troxel told Well+Good.

The scent of your partner might also help you sleep better

A 2020 study published in the Association for Psychological Science looked at the sleeping behavior of 155 participants who spent two nights — one sleeping on a t-shirt (used as a pillowcase) of their partner and another sleeping on a different t-shirt — found that the scent of their romantic partners helped the participants have better sleep.

The study’s senior author and associate professor at The University of British Columbia Department of Psychology, Frances Chen told The University of British Columbia, “One of the most surprising findings is how a romantic partner’s scent can improve sleep quality even outside of our conscious awareness. The sleep watch data showed that participants experienced less tossing and turning when exposed to their partners’ scent, even if they weren’t aware of whose scent they were smelling.”

It is important to note that these findings might not hold true if your partner is a restless sleeper or if they snore throughout the night. No amount of scent or oxytocin can come to your rescue here. It also doesn’t mean that those who are single or who aren’t in love currently sleep worse than their lovestruck counterparts. In fact, some people might prefer sleeping by themselves for a good night’s rest. What it might point toward is the surprising ways your partner can affect your health. If you are in love, make sure you feel safe and connected to your partner for better sleep, and if you aren’t, invest in effective sleep hygiene habits.

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