Many studies now show a healthy, loving relationship brings a multitude of emotional and psychological benefits. It is a fact that people who have supportive and healthy, loving relationships are less likely to succumb to stress and anxiety, etc. but research now confirms a loving relationship helps us to lead a longer, more productive life with increased resilience, but what about sleep?
A healthy, loving relationship improves us psychosocially and positively affects our sleep. We know it, we feel it, regardless of what studies show. But before we look at sleep, we need to look at our days! One thing I say over and over to clients is there is an intervening variable in life that will impact your happiness and success more than anything else, and that is your emotional state. We must work to stay emotionally regulated in the day, this is indeed a full-time job looking after ourself, but it gets easier. As we learn more deeply who we are, build the right relationships with others we resonate fully with, and honor more of what we truly want and need, we can get on top of life.
Our emotional state, or emotional regulation helps us more than anything else to be happy and productive, to be there for another, to be there for our kids, to be there for ourselves in the day, when this is off due to stress or relationship problems it can throw us off and thus our sleep. But with time we can work through any challenge, to build a great life.
Until recently there have been few studies that explored how a healthy, loving relationship impacts our sleep. But in the last decade, there have been a number of studies that throw light on this area. They show an interesting parallel between a loving relationship and quality of sleep.
One interesting psychological study named ‘Perceived Partner Responsiveness Predicts Better Sleep Quality Through Lower Anxiety.’ It was conducted by researchers at the University of Turkey and published in 2016. It explored the role of a loving relationship and its impact on healthy and restorative sleep.
The study concludes that high-quality and uninterrupted sleep is essential for the human body to protect it from deterioration. There is too much focus today on healthy eating, and not enough focus on the need for a loving relationship and community. The Roseto Effect challenges all polarized science to date to date, as it shows clearly heart disease was almost non-existent in a close-knit loving community, even in high risk groups, with good diet or not. We are built for close relationships, and built to love.
Restorative sleep is possible when a person feels absolutely safe, secure, and free of threats. When we are kids, we get our sense of security from our parents. Sometimes in break ups one of our parents cannot provides this, but all is not lost. Another person can step in to assist in the rebuilding of a healthy attachment for a child, and provide safety and repair any damage done to a child psychologically. When we are adults, we should expect security and kindness from our loving partner. As a result, our sleep quality improves when we have a healthy, loving relationship. I am a fan of ‘uncontrolling, I have got your back love’. It is this kind of loving support that is very brave to give, but provides emotional safety to another to help this person flourish and grow to their full potential. It is this kind of love that needs to flow from an adult or parent, to a child too.
Dr. Emre Selcuk, lead researcher and developmental and social psychologist in this responsiveness study of partnerships, put it this way – ‘Our findings show that individuals with responsive partners experience lower anxiety and arousal, which in turn improves their sleep quality. Having responsive partners who would be available to protect and comfort us should things go wrong is the most effective way for us humans to reduce anxiety, tension, and arousal. The corpus of evidence we obtained in recent years suggests that our best bet for a happier, healthier, and, longer life is having a responsive partner.’
Other studies on loving relationships and sleep show increased positive mood states in the mornings and evenings. Even with fewer hours of sleep people experienced increased subjective sleep quality, lowered daytime sleepiness, and heightened concentration during the day.
The Bottom Line
As we all know, instinctively, a loving relationship makes us happier and healthier. I am not too much of a fan of the ‘falling in love’ concept. We need to stay grounded and conscious in our relationships and life. I am however, a fan of ‘uncontrolling, I have got your back love’ because although incredibly brave to provide this care, this love, it provides another with the emotional safety to be themselves, and so, to grow into what they want to. The ability to provide this requires a level of personal growth, and bravery, to both be, and provide, because it gives the other person permission to expand and grow without limits.
Most of us will experience the wrong energy, intention, or controlling love in a relationship and will depart. Sometimes this can be worked out with personal growth, sometimes it cannot. But as human-beings I believe we often work out who we are, but exploring who we are not. So we learn.
People experience comfort and togetherness while they are in a healthy, loving relationship. All of us know what loving kindness is, because we can feel it. Rather than considering loving kindness as a need in a loving relationship, it has to be accepted as a given inherent in humans. A healthy, loving relationship can even help you with your sleep if it is providing you with the emotional safety you need. Yes, the true support of another helps us to sleep in a world full of challenges. As we close our eyes, we know we are safer, thus we can sleep better… before the next day of life’s challenges arise with the morning coffee.