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Sharing a bed may offer couples in a close relationship health benefits and help them live longer.
Sleep is a critically important health behavior that we know is associated with heart disease and psychiatric well-being. —Wendy M. Troxel, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh

Sleeping together may confer health benefits on couples that help explain why those in close relationships live longer and are healthier. Research says the benefits seem to make up for some perceived downsides, like differing bedtime needs and mattress preferences.

"Sleep is a critically important health behavior that we know is associated with heart disease and psychiatric well-being," Wendy M. 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 says.

Numerous studies have addressed aspects of why couples sleep together or apart and what either might mean to them.

In one of Dr. Troxel's studies, published in 2009, sleep came easier to and lasted longer for women in long-term stable relationships than for single women or women who lost or gained a partner during the years the study lasted.

There are ways to overcome such obstacles as mismatched sleep needs, the romantic pairing of night owls and morning larks, and competing preferences for things like mattress firmness or softness and room temperature. They include all types of strategies and even products to bridge differences. Journal writer Andrea Petersen offers a thorough discussion of both the research and the tools.

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