Sleep impacts basically every aspect of our lives. Quality (and quantity) of shuteye keeps our mind and body in working order, and also plays an integral role in the success of our relationships. After all, irritability and crankiness from a lack of sleep aren’t exactly attractive qualities in a partner.
“If two people are feeling drained and worn down, they’re much less likely to respond to each other with caring support and love,” says Dr. Lee Land, a licensed psychologist based in Austin. “Without a doubt, sleep deprivation can lead to stress, tension and conflict in relationships.”
However, in addition to racking up those Zs, experts say what you and your sweetie do before bed can impact your relationship, too. We’ve teamed up with Sleep Number and consulted sleep and relationship professionals to find out how the most common bedtime habits of couples affect relationships.
1. Sidelining Sexy Time
Your bed is a sanctuary for you and your partner, which is why making time to snuggle up to your S.O. is key for healthy couples, according to relationship professionals. “Couples who cuddle are actively bonding,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author. “It’s a wonderful bedtime habit to establish together. It does indeed promote increased happiness and intimacy.”
And, let’s not forget about getting freaky in those sheets. Getting down with your partner is, obviously, one of the best ways to connect in the bedroom. “Many couples I work with are either too caught up with their phones or books, don’t feel motivated enough to have sex, or may be ‘holding out’ on their partner because of unresolved conflict,” says Melody Li, licensed couples therapist and relationship specialist. While some couples oftentimes feel self-conscious about the frequency of their sessions, it’s worth noting that the happiest couples are those who have sex exactly as often as they want to get it on. “Sex itself can be healing to the relationship and can remind partners that they are working together as a team,” Li says.
2. Tweeting In Bed
You guessed it: Staring at your smartphone in bed is a romantic buzz kill. “No single technological development has caused as much loneliness in relationships as the smartphone,” Li says. A recent study of college students found that participants who felt their partners were too dependent on their smartphones reported lower levels of relationships satisfaction.
The solution? Li recommends that couples agree to put phones away an hour or two before dozing off. Instead, use that time to debrief about the day and focus on each other.
3. Slacking On Pillow Talk
Talking openly and honestly with your partner is one of the hallmarks of a healthy relationship, and should be treated as such, says Winter. “Pillow talk is a precious form of communication between lovers.” Think of your bed as a safe space between you and your partner. If couples can incorporate actions of warmth and tenderness before bedtime, they will be setting the template for the next day’s mood and their relationship’s longevity.
4. Going To Bed Upset
Couples often hear the old adage, “Don’t go to bed angry,” but experts disagree on whether this advice actually holds true. A recent study found that falling asleep shortly after creating a bad memory made it harder to brush off later. It’s research that helps to support the idea that resolving issues before bed is better for your relationships.
But, not all experts agree. “Chances are, the issue will not be resolved before both people become too sleepy to be productive,” Li says. “The heightened tension will lead to tossing and turning, which results in a cranky morning.” Her suggestion? Save the difficult conversations for when both people are calm, rested, and ready to talk through solutions.
5. Sleeping Apart
Interestingly, sleep and relationship experts agree that snoozing solo might actually be good for couples — but only when limited to a few hours or overnight, not for extended periods of time. “Going to bed at different times can be positive because everyone gets some alone time and a good night’s sleep,” says relationship expert and psychotherapist Rachel Sussman. The key, she says, is to make sure the sack time apart isn’t impacting your oh-so-important sex life.
Sleep Number® beds are designed with couples in mind. Sleep Number® is committed to helping couples get their best possible sleep by creating beds that adjust on each side to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support—your Sleep Number® setting. Add our DualTemp™ layer to heat or cool each side of the bed, and you can both sleep exactly the way you like.