As individuals and as couples, there are about a zillion things we can all do to improve our sleep quality.
We can avoid caffeine in the evenings, make sure the room is dark enough, take a warm bath, forget about staring at screens too close to bedtime, do some meditation, drink some herbal tea, cuddle, have sex, choose the best sleep positions for couples, and so on and so forth.
The above tips can serve as solid advice for some who struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep, but have you ever considered how the quality of your relationship could help or hinder your sleep quality?
Your Relationship May Be the Key to a Good Night’s Sleep
A psychological study shows that people actually sleep better if they sleep beside their partners who make them feel cared for and valued in their relationship.
For the study, 700 adults ages 35 to 86 who were either married or living with a partner had been asked to report on how responsive they felt their partner was to their needs as well as how well they slept at night; 219 participants also had their sleep monitored for a week.
Those who reported higher responsiveness from their partners were more likely to have better “restorative” sleep quality.
According to the researchers, people who have responsive partners experience lower levels of anxiety and depression, which leads to improved sleep quality.
Restorative sleep depends on feeling safe and free from threat, and while children get this from their parents, romantic partners fill that role during adulthood.
This is the first study to show how partner responsiveness affects sleep behaviour, but it certainly isn’t the only one that found links between personal relationships and sleep quality.
Your Relationship Affects Your Sleep, and Your Sleep Affects Your Relationship
While the study mentioned above suggests our romantic relationships affect our sleep, another study turns it around by saying that our sleep affects our romantic relationships.
Sixty-eight newlywed couples kept diaries to report on their relationship satisfaction and amount of sleep they got for seven days.
When they slept for a longer period of time, the participants were more likely to feel more satisfied with their marriage the next day.
WebMD also emphasizes how sleep quality is related to marital satisfaction.
Those who are less satisfied in their marriages are more likely to suffer from insomnia, sluggishness during the day and shorter periods spent asleep at night than those who are more satisfied in their marriages.
Although the person you sleep alongside at night may be the primary influencer in terms of how relationships affect sleep quality, it may even be worth looking into relationships with friends, relatives and possible even coworkers that could potentially be adding to stress and anxiety in ways that affect sleep quality.
In teenagers at least, research has shown that social ties were of more importance to sleep quality than biological development.
13 of the Best Sleeping Positions for Couples
There are countless ways to sleep as a couple, and you’ll have to experiment to find the positions that suit the both of you best — depending on personal preference and comfort.
Here are just 13 of the best sleeping positions for couples to consider trying.
1. The Classic Spoon
Everyone knows the classic spoon position where both partners lie on the same side with the “big spoon” on the outside and the “little spoon” on the inside.
This is one of the most intimate positions to sleep in, but it may not be comfortable for the whole night (especially if the little spoon is lying on top of the big spoon’s arm).
It’s idea for drifting off into light sleep, but after that, you both might want to shift positions.
2. The Casual Spoon
The casual spoon is a roomier and more relaxed version of the classic spoon position.
Both partners are still lying on the same side in the spooning position, but there may be a lot of room between the two and the big spooner’s lower arm doesn’t necessarily have to be trapped by the little spoon lying on top of it.
It’s not quite as intimate as the classic spoon, but it offers more flexibility to move around.
3. The Sweetheart Cradle
The sweetheard cradle is one of the ultimate couple positions, involving one partner (typically the man, but not always) lying on his back while the other partner (often the woman) lying on her stomach on top of the other partner’s chest and/or shoulder.
Similar to the spoon position, the sweetheart cradle is very intimate and has one partner acting as the protector.
Again, this might not be the position to stay in all night give the eventual discomfort of lying on someone’s chest/shoulder (and having someone lying on their chest/shoulder), but it’s fine to drift off into a light sleep state.
4. The One Arm Hug
The one arm hug involves one partner lying on their back and the other lying on their side, facing their partner.
The one on their side extends their arm over the other partner’s torso.
This position is a great way to maintain a physical connection without being too restrained.
5. The One Hand Touch
A variation of the one arm hug is the one hand touch.
Instead of the full arm extended out and around the body of one partner, just one hand is placed somewhere on their body — like their arm, stomach, or leg.
If either partner decides to move around, neither one should be overly distrubed or confined to their current position.
The back-to-back position is probably one of the least intimiate sleeping positions for couples, but you can easily change that just by scooching a little closer to the middle so that your backs, bottoms, or legs touch.
Otherwise, you can keep your full distance and have total freedom to sleep in the position you want, completely undistrubed.
Don’t worry — this position doesn’t mean you’re not well connected to your partner.
It simply means that you appreciate space.
After all, you don’t have to be touching your partner all night, every night!
7. Front-to-Front (Touching)
Sleeping on opposite sides facing each other is a great excuse to reach out and touch each other.
You can combine this position with the one arm hug or the one hand touch if you want.
This position can be surprisingly intimate when you combine touch with a bit of pillow talk and gazing into each other’s eyes.
8. Front-to-Front (Not Touching)
You don’t necessarily need to be touching each other while in the front-to-front position for it to be intimate.
You can watch each other sleep, listen to each other’s breathing, and feel each other’s closeness just by being beside each other.
If one or both partners like to shift around at night, this is a great position to try.
9. Intertwined Legs
This might be one of the more obscure best sleeping positions for couples, but for those who like a certain amount of space and perhaps get hot from their partner’s body heat, placing one leg over their partner’s legs might be just perfect.
You might have to experiment with this to find out what’s comfortable and whose legs should be on top.
Warning: Avoid pretzel legs to avoid trapping your partner into their position all night.
10. The Flat Back
Why change anything when both of you like to sleep on your back?
Sleeping on your back is one of the best positions for your neck and spine.
You can both keep your space, or alternatively modify this position by combining it with a one hand touch or even intertwined legs.
11. The Starfish and Fetal Position
Does one of you like to spread all their limbs out while the other likes to curl up into a ball?
If so, you might just be a perfect match for each other.
One partner could take the spread out starfish position if the other is more than fine with having less space.
Both could also sleep in the fetal position, although you probably won’t have enough room for two starfish.
12. Hot and Cold
Does one of you have to be fully covered by blankets in order to fall asleep while the other is practically sweating?
The hot and cold position isn’t really a position — it’s more of a blanket adjustment.
Give most or all of the blankets to the cold partner while the hot partner can cool off.
It’s as simple as that.
13. Scantiliy Clad or Nude
I saved the best for last.
Again, it’s not exactly a position, but it’s still worth putting on this list.
If you really want to pump up the intimacy between you and your partner, trying going to bed in your underwear… or in nothing at all!
Hey, you might just get lucky.
And try staying nude (or half nude) all night.
In addition to being good for your body because it can breathe better without all that fabric covering it up, you might also just get lucky again in the morning!
Be Glad That You Have a Partner to Sleep Next to You in Bed
Overall, when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, this research shows that our sense of belonging and connection to others shouldn’t be ignored.
Those who feel confident about having partners that they can count on when things get tough are the ones who have naturally lower levels of anxiety, tension and arousal keeping them up at night.
Communicate well with your partner to sleep better, and sleep better to communicate well with your partner.
Although it may get challenging as you age, consciously decided to maintain this is well worth it for both you and your partner on all mental, emotional and physical levels of health.