Winter brings its blustery chill, leaving everyone to search for warmth. For many couples, those toastier temperatures are found in the bedroom. Research shows that the bedroom is America’s favorite place for cuddling, and that’s where many couples head to bury beneath blankets and embrace, in slumber or romance, to kindle body heat.
“There are a variety of reasons why people may have more sleep, sex and cuddling in the winter months,” says Terry Cralle, a registered nurse, certified clinical sleep educator and Better Sleep Council (BSC) consultant. “With colder temperatures in many parts of the country and shortened daylight hours, people may find they want to go to bed earlier.”
With more time in bed, couples have more hours to sleep and to enjoy some other passionate pastimes. “Certainly, there are many benefits to turning in earlier, including getting a full-night’s rest, and for couples, they have more time with each other,” says Cralle.
It’s not just the quantity of sex that picks up during winter – the quality improves, too. BSC research shows that, among people who are intimate more often in cold weather, 77% find their winter sex is better when compared with other times of the year.
Not all relationships and sleep improve with extra bedtime
All of this makes winter sound like the most romantic time of all. However, not all couples equally enjoy the Valentine’s season slumber party. In some relationships, extra time in bed creates discomfort and stress. Partners struggle with sleep habits and preferences that don’t align with one another’s. This keeps couples from enjoying healthful sleep, plus getting extra energy and excitement for cuddling and sex.
People of all genders and ages are affected by sleep deficits. Research shows that when men regularly sleep for 5 hours or less, their testosterone levels drop to the levels of a man 15 years older, making them less excited about sex. A study of college-aged women shows that they increase their sex drive by 14% with every extra hour of sleep.
The lack of sleep hurts relationships even beyond the bedroom. Studies show that when we’re not getting enough sleep, we are less attractive, less witty and more argumentative. Additional research shows our need for sleep can make us less satisfied in our relationships. Why does this happen? The long story short is that our pre-frontal cortex, the brain section we use to weigh and make decisions, makes more mistakes when under-rested. Tired minds can be less talented at connecting in emotion or touch.
For example, a recent study from the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research reviewed the sleep habits and behaviors of 43 married couples. Among those who slept less, the twosomes had poorer moods and were more hostile toward each other when they functioned with less than 7 hours of sleep. Interestingly, the well-rested couples still had disagreements, but the way they handled them was different, approaching conflicts in a more constructive, collaborative manner.
Reclaim sexy, healthful sleep for your relationship
If you’re in one of these relationships where one or both people struggle to sleep, you’re not alone. On average, one in three Americans says their partner’s sleep problems hurt their ability to snooze. The good news is that you and your lover don’t have to settle for separate beds. You can use Valentine’s Day as a reason to bring harmony back to the bedroom.
The first step in solving sleep issues, like most tensions in a relationship, is to communicate. With your partner, dream up a strategy for helping each other rest long and well. Even couples who enjoy compatible sleep can try a new trick or two for even better time in the bedroom. Prepare for a season of sexier slumber by adding some new approaches.
- Share a bedtime. Review both of your schedules and set a time that works for you to curl up together and enjoy some pre-sleep cuddling.
- Set the heat just right. Many partners disagree about the ideal temperature to sleep. Talk about a potential setting that works for both of you. If you’re far apart in your climate desires, there are ways to customize your experiences. Use mattress pads that heat or cool, or double-fold a blanket over your freezing lover.
- Look away from the screens. Most things in life are sexier than checking email. In fact, everything in life is sexier than checking email. Once you hop into bed, it’s time for laptops, phones and work to enjoy their own slumber. Make your bedroom a sanctuary to relax.
- Talk about your favorite positions for sleep. Your bed is a shared space, and that’s a problem if one partner’s posture flings the other person to the very edge of the mattress. Have a discussion about the best ways to lie for cuddling and sleep.
- Let there be light, or embrace the darkness. Many people who struggle with sleep cite light sensitivity as a reason for restlessness. Adjust your light fixtures and window treatments for a brightness that benefits both partners.
- Find ways to de-stress. Turning off your screens is one way to reduce anxiety, but there are other things you can do to place yourself in the best mindset before rest. Try a meditation practice or grab a book. Might we suggest snuggling? Research shows that 86% of Americans claim to feel benefits from cuddling. There’s an important note with that statistic, though. The pro-cuddling sentiment is strongest among people with a comfortable mattress.
- Invest in a mattress designed for both partners. If winter is the season when you’re most often in bed, then it’s a great time to get a mattress that meets your preferences. Talk with your partner about the materials and the levels of firmness that give both of you your best rest.
With a new plan for sleep in place, you and your partner can bring plenty of great sleep and sex into Valentine’s Day and the rest of winter. Give yourselves – from your brains to your backs – the rest they need to be creative and romantic during winter and throughout the year.