Snoring, duvet-hogging, wriggling — it's easy to believe that, when it comes to getting a good night's sleep, your partner might be more of a hindrance than a helper. But according to a new study presented at the 2017 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention, sharing good news with your loved one might actually be linked to a better night's sleep.
In the study, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, 162 participants (including both married and cohabiting couples) answered questions about the best things that happened to them every day, if they shared this information with anyone, and how their partner responded if they shared the news. They also reported their feelings about these interactions. Their responses were analyzed and compared to the participants' sleep patterns.
Ultimately, researchers found that supportive responses from partners were associated with lower feelings of loneliness and higher feelings of intimacy in participants, which were then linked to getting a better night's sleep.
Lead author Sarah Arpin, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Gonzaga University, told Health:
If I go home and tell my husband I had a great day and I got a raise, and he says, 'Hey what's for dinner,' that would be awful — it would undermine my well-being… It's an important reminder that when your partner is sharing something, you really need to be listening and open and actively engaging.
It is worth noting that the study had its limitations, as the small group of participants were all heterosexual military couples — it was part of a larger piece of research aimed at improving service men and women's experiences when entering the workforce after they leave active duty. The study also only found a link between partner communication and better sleep, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
Despite its limitations, though, the study adds to the argument that good communication might be beneficial to relationships and health. During their presentation, Dr. Arpin and her fellow researchers suggested that sharing good news is an "important relationship-maintenance and health-enhancing process" and that there might be physiological consequences for couples who struggle with intimacy and communication problems. As Dr. Arpin told Health:
It may be common sense that we all want to share with our partners when good things happen... but the real lesson here is that doing so can have a stronger impact on your health than you might realize.