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Health

Scientists discover new reason why we should avoid sharing a bed with our partners

Should you share a bed with your partner? This is a common question and one to which there is no obvious answer. On the one hand, sharing a bed with your partner offers a sense of security and comfort, but on the other hand, having a bed partner who snores, fusses, or steals the sheets can often lead to a bad night’s sleep. sleep.

Getting enough sleep is of course essential to our physical and mental well-being. It helps us consolidate our memories and aids physical recovery, and not getting enough of it has been shown to contribute to heart disease, obesity, neurodegenerative disorders, and depression. And yet, in the United States, one in three adults report not getting enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For some people, this may be due in part to a restless bed partner, and according to the YouGov survey, two-thirds of American adults actually want to share a bed with their partner. But what actually happens in our brains when we sleep next to someone else?

In a new study from the University of Michigan, psychology professor Ada Eban-Rothschild and her team investigated the effects of co-sleeping on sleep quality in mice. By monitoring their brain activity during sleep, the team was able to track the rodents’ sleep intensity and sleep-wake cycles.

Sharing a bed with your partner can lead to more disrupted and fragmented sleep, which can put a strain on the relationship in the long term.
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Their results, published in the journal Current biology, found that mice that slept together tended to fall asleep and wake up at the same time, and showed synchronization in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep intensity. This state encompasses three phases of sleep, including deep sleep, essential for physical recovery and memory consolidation. However, while the team observed synchronization in this phase of sleep, they also found that the resulting sleep was more fragmented, leading to poorer overall sleep quality.

And yet, despite these increased disturbances, the mice did their best to find other mice to sleep with. Indeed, the mice were willing to give up their preferred sleeping location and environment to snuggle up next to their peers.

Another interesting observation is that REM sleep became synchronized between male siblings sleeping together, but not between females or unfamiliar mice. It’s unclear exactly why this gender difference emerged, but researchers posit that the degree of synchronization may depend on feelings of security.

More research is still needed to understand how these findings relate to humans’ sleep patterns, but these results clearly show that not everyone responds to co-sleeping in the same way. If the benefits of comfort and safety outweigh the potential disruption, co-sleeping might be right for you. But if you wake up every hour with a foghorn blaring next to your ear, it might be time to try separate beds.

Is there a health problem that worries you? Do you have a question about sleep? Let us know via health@newsweek.com. We can seek advice from experts and your story could be published on News week.