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Sleep with Your Partner to Live Longer, Says Research

Update Date: Jun 06, 2012 04:57 PM EDT

In spite of all the bed sheet fights, constant snoring and other irritating bedroom habits of your partner, sleeping together may get you a longer life compared to those who sleep alone, says a latest study.

Couples who sleep together are reportedly healthier even if it makes them get up a few times in the night or experience a little uncomfortable sleep, believe researchers.

Apparently, studies have found that women wake up more often at night compared to men when they share the same bed.

A survey conducted in UK revealed that couples have as many as 167 bedroom arguments on an average in a year. It further revealed that at least 20% of 2000 adults surveyed, claimed losing 2 hours of sleep a night due a partner's snoring. One in 10 even admitted considering leaving their partner due to his/her bedroom habits which ended up giving them a bad night's sleep.

"Sleep is a critically important health behavior that we know is associated with heart disease and psychiatric well-being," Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Wall Street Journal.

"It happens to be this health behavior that we do in couples," she said.

A 2009 Troxel's study says that women who are in long-term relationships woke up less often and fell asleep quickly compared to those who are single or who changed a partner during the 6-8 years of the study.

The explanation of the phenomenon given by Toxel is that the feeling of security is increased while sleeping with a partner, leading to lower levels of stress hormone cortisol, lower levels in cytokines that can cause inflammation, and higher levels of the so-called love hormone, oxytocin, which eases anxiety and is produced in the same part of the brain that is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle.

A 2007 study published in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms says that while women woke up more often while sleeping with someone, it did not make a difference to men's sleep.

Although women claimed that they slept better on the nights they had sex, their actigraphs, wrist devices that record movement during sleep, showed otherwise, says the report.

John Dittami, a behavioral endocrinologist and biological rhythms specialist at the University of Vienna, who led the research, found that in fact women's sleep was even more disrupted on nights they had sex.

"Women enjoy male presence psychologically even though it costs them minutes or even hours of sleep," Dittami suggested. He also suggests that women may be more easily disturbed by their partners because they are more sensitive to their environments.

A 2010 study co-authored by Troxel found that men and women who have had a more positive interaction with their partners got better sleep compared to those who have not had very pleasant conversations.

"Women tend to drive the emotional content of the relationships," Troxel told the Journal. "Husbands may take up a stronger signal" from wives.

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