The study, led by Professor Richard Wiseman of University of Hertfordshire, found that it’s possible to tell how happy a couple are together by measuring the distance between them as they sleep. According to the survey, conducted as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, partners who slept less than an inch apart were more likely to be content with their relationship than those maintaining a gap wider than 30 inches. In addition, those who made physical contact through the night were happier than those with a ‘no touching’ rule while trying to sleep.
It’s interesting research but how much I agree with it, I’m not sure. Firstly I definitely fit into the category of sleeping apart (though not a gap wider than 30 inches) and I rarely like physical contact through the night but I firmly believe that my relationship with my husband is a happy one (or it certainly is on my part!).
I’m not a ‘cuddly sleeper’ by any stretch. A quick cuddle goodnight and then I’m off to my side of the bed. Not only can I not bear my husband’s (what feels like a 10 tonne) arm over me or breathing on me, I also get really really warm. And if I get hot in bed, I become restless, uncomfortable and can’t sleep.
Aside from the heat issue, there’s also plenty of research done to show that actually many couples sleep better apart and have a better relationship for it. Sleep specialist Dr. Neil Stanley says couples believe they sleep better with their partner but the evidence is actually that couples suffer 50 per cent more sleep disturbances if they share a bed.
This certainly backs up our some of our own survey results a while back which found that nearly half of those questioned complained of being awakened up to six times a night by their other halves. While almost half (46%) fell asleep again within five minutes, others found it impossible to drop off again for an hour or more. The major complaints were against those who snored, hogged the bed clothes and tossed and turned.
A further survey we did in 2008 also highlighted the issue, finding that a quarter of British couples admitted to sleeping separately on a regular basis. It seemed that busy night time routines were driving couples’ bedtimes and even their bedrooms apart and nine per cent of those questioned admitted to always sleeping separately from their partner.
So do you sleep close to your bed partner and are you happier because of it?