Are you a spooner? An edge hugger? A toe toucher? New research shows that the sleeping position couples choose is directly related to their relationship satisfaction. The data on 1000 couples was collected at the Edinburgh Science Festival and the biggest finding was that the further a couple sleeps apart, the more unhappy their relationship.
As for slumber positions, the majority of couples reported sleeping on their backs with spooners running a close second. Next most common were back-to-back sleepers and only a mere 4% of couples sleep facing each other. But the most telling feature was how many inches apart they slept. Partners who have physical contact while they sleep reported the most positive feelings in their relationship, while those who slept thirty inches apart reported the least relationship satisfaction. Interesting to note that, other research shows that one in four American marriages sleep in separate beds.
It makes sense that uneasy alliances would be less likely to cuddle up after dark, but could a change in sleeping position actually improve a relationship? The answer depends on whether both partners want to change their relationship. If that is the case, it stands to reason that touch can be healing. The neurochemical effects of skin-to-skin contact in infants and children have been well documented. In fact the absence of touch can stunt the growth of babies. Touching and hugging can release oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding in humans.
Even though sleeping is quiet time, sometimes couples can encounter a lot of commotion throughout the night, such as if one’s partner snorts like a trumpet, or rolls to the other side with the covers. Regardless of any problem while sleeping with one another, our bodies get emotional nutrition through touch. If a couple is sleeping separately because of snoring or a medical condition, it would serve their relationship well to schedule extensive cuddle time, maybe while watching television. Another option to think about is to start the night together and have one partner leave when the snoring gets bad.
My advice? First have a talk and then have a touch. Even those with menopause hot flashes might benefit from a little nocturnal toe touching.