We spend up to one-third of our life asleep, but not everyone sleeps well. For couples, it turns out how well you think your partner understands and cares for you is linked to how well you sleep.If your partner is keeping you up all night then it could have something to do with the quality of your relationship.
A study using data from a project called Midlife Development in the United States and published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found a link between how secure and happy you feel in your relationship and how well you're sleeping at night.
Before you admonish your partner for snoring or vow to start taking up more of the bed, it doesn't actually have anything to do with their physical presence. Lead author Dr. Emre Selçuk, a developmental and social psychologist at Middle East Technical University in Turkey, emphasizes that it has everything to do with your emotions.
"Our findings show that individuals with responsive partners experience lower anxiety and arousal, which in turn improves their sleep quality," he said.
Sleep plays a crucial physical role as it allows the body to repair. However, this protective function of sleep known as restorative sleep can only be realized when we have high quality uninterrupted sleep, that protect health from deteriorating.
Restorative sleep requires feelings of safety, security, protection and absence of threats. For humans, the strongest source of feelings of safety and security is responsive social partners, whether parents in childhood or romantic partners in adulthood.
"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," Dr. Selçuk continues.
To extrapolate somewhat, the research appears to say that being in a relationship with the wrong person can be really bad for your health and may even shorten your lifespan.
Maintaining a loving and supportive relationship doesn't just do wonders for mental health but for physical health too, because one of the most important functions of sleep is to protect us against illness.
"Taken together, the corpus of evidence we obtained in recent years suggests that our best bet for a happier, healthier, and a longer life is having a responsive partner," says Selçuk. The researchers believe that a responsive partner and better sleep suggests a healthier and longer life overall.