Relationship Troubles? Go to Bed
by Barbara Quick
Perhaps because the term "sleeping together" is our euphemism for having sex, we rarely talk about actually sleeping together — the physical act of being unconscious together side by side in a bed.
And yet, if you're partnered, you spend about one-third of your life relating, body to body, in your sleep. This made me wonder about the ways in which our relationships are helped or hindered while we're catching Z's.
Dr. Beth Malow, a sleep specialist from the University of Michigan Medical Center, urges couples to keep cuddling. She suggests consulting a physician for nighttime problems that wreck couples' sleep together.
Malow warns that sleeping in separate beds rather than seeking medical attention for snoring or kicking can be dangerous both to the health of your relationship and the health of the partner causing the disruption.
Just as sleep allows your body to repair and renew itself, a close and peaceful sleep together can repair and renew your relationship. I've heard many long-time married couples swear by a hard-and-fast rule about never going to bed angry. They know better than to compromise the healing and bonding that come with an all-night cuddle.
Psychotherapist and author Jonathan Robinson recommends "spooning" — the sleeping position where two people fit themselves together back to front like nested spoons — as a surefire way to ward off arguments and increase intimacy with your partner.
In his book, Communication Miracles for Couples, he gives instructions on how to breathe and spoon together — a technique he calls "the spoon tune."
"In the Oriental system of medicine," says Robinson, "it's believed that the spooning position creates a harmonious energy flow." He recommends the technique when one or both members of a couple is feeling stressed or argumentative.