Cuddling with your partner in bed before falling asleep is one of the best parts of being in a relationship. However, not all couples continue cuddling throughout the night. So do couples actually sleep while cuddling all night long? Let’s take a look at what the research says.
The benefits of cuddling before bed
First, it’s important to understand the benefits of cuddling before bedtime. Studies have found that cuddling releases oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and promotes bonding between partners.
Cuddling before bed has also been shown to help people fall asleep faster. The warmth and comfort provided by a partner’s embrace can help relax the body and quiet the mind before sleep. One study found that couples who cuddled fell asleep more quickly compared to couples who did not cuddle before bed.
So cuddling right before bed clearly has some great advantages. But do these benefits continue throughout the night while couples are sleeping?
Do couples stay embraced all night?
Research suggests that most couples do not actually sleep wrapped in each other’s arms the entire night. Sleep studies have found that while couples might go to bed cuddling, they often separate and move away from each other as they transition into deeper stages of sleep.
There are a few reasons why this separation tends to happen:
- As the body relaxes into sleep, muscles also relax, causing a couple’s embrace to loosen.
- Partners frequently change positions throughout the night, disrupting any sustained contact.
- Cuddling can generate warmth and sweat, causing partners to move away to cool down.
- Unconscious movements like kicking or stealing blankets can interrupt snuggling.
Additionally, some level of space is natural and needed for a good night’s sleep. Deep, restful sleep requires stillness and few distractions. The closeness of cuddling can actually disrupt this sleep after a while.
How much do couples actually touch while sleeping?
Scientific studies have attempted to estimate how much physical contact couples have while sleeping. The findings may surprise you:
|Findings on Couples Touching at Night
|British sleep study in 2007
|Partners were observed making contact about once every hour while sleeping.
|2014 study by University of Hertfordshire
|Partners spent less than 50% of the night touching, eitherhugging or just hand-holding.
|2015 study in Frontiers in Psychiatry
|Couples spent only 6-8% of the night interactingphysically, mostly accidental touch.
As the table shows, research has found that couples physically interact or touch each other for only a small fraction of the night. Most physical contact is accidental and brief, such as a brush of feet under the covers. Actual cuddling or hugging accounts for less than 10% of total sleep time for most couples.
Do any couples actually cuddle all night?
While most couples drift apart as they fall deeper into sleep, some unique pairs can maintain cuddling for longer periods of time. Studies have found a few factors that can influence this:
- New couples tend to interact more through the night, particularly in the first few months of a relationship when bonding is strongest.
- Couples who reported being deeply in love were more likely to sustain embraces for longer.
- Partners who described themselves as frequent cuddlers also trended toward more habitual touching all night long.
- Younger couples cuddle more through the night compared to older couples, possibly due to younger partners having fewer age-related sleep disturbances.
Additionally, the sleep environment can impact cuddling duration. Couples who sleep in a cooler room under lighter covers tend to maintain more contact at night compared to those who sleep in a warm room with heavier blankets.
While these factors may increase nighttime cuddling, most couples still only touch for brief intermittent periods rather than the entire night. Even pairs who consider themselves avid cuddlers generally just have short episodes of embrace scattered throughout the sleeping hours.
Do couples sleep better while cuddling?
An important question is whether sleeping while continuously cuddling leads to better, deeper sleep compared to sleeping apart. Current research evidence is mixed:
- Some studies have found that couples report sleeping better when cuddling more. The comfort of a partner’s touch can lower anxiety and make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
- However, other research suggests cuddling may disrupt sleep. Movements or temperature increases from a partner could rouse someone from deeper sleep stages.
- One study found couples slept best when touching, but not wrapped tightly in an embrace, allowing some room to shift positions.
More research is still needed to clarify if sustained cuddling helps or hinders sleep quality for couples. But most experts agree that some touch is beneficial, while too much close contact may interfere with restful sleep.
Tips for couples who want to cuddle more at night
If you and your partner want to stay embraced for more of the night, here are some tips that may help:
- Keep the room cool – heat and sweating can disrupt cuddling. Set the thermostat around 65°F (18°C).
- Try a larger mattress – having space to spread out makes prolonged cuddling more comfortable.
- Use lighter bedding – avoid heavy blankets that cause you to overheat and separate.
- Go to bed clean and dry – sweat, lotion, oils can create irritation and prompt couples to pull apart.
- Reduce alcohol before bed – drinking leads to decreased consciousness of touch and more separation.
- Compromise on preferred sleeping positions – be willing to switch positions to accommodate your partner.
With the right environment and commitment to compromise, many couples find they can increase physical closeness at night. However, it’s also important to accept that complete all-night cuddling may not be realistic or most conducive to your best sleep. Finding the right balance is key.
While cuddling before bed has proven benefits, most couples drift apart once they fall into deeper stages of sleep. Brief intermittent touch through the night is more common than sustained embracing. However, factors like relationship duration, level of affection, and age can influence cuddling frequency. Creating an optimal sleep environment and willingness to accommodate a partner’s position can also encourage more nighttime cuddling for couples who desire it. But too much contact can disrupt sleep, so finding the right balance is important for both partners.