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A smiling couple lying on their bed at home

Be thoughtful, communicate, compromise, and be respectful. These are just a few of the tenets of a successful and fulfilling relationship.

But now, experts are saying there’s another surprising thing you should be focusing on as well: sleep.

According to a new study, how couples sleep together can provide surprising insights into the effectiveness and quality of their relationship.

“One of the most important differences involves touching,” study author Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K., said in a university news release.

Per the results of the study, the farther apart couples slept, the less likely they were to be happy:

  • 86 percent of those who slept less than an inch apart were happy with their relationship
  • 66 percent of those who slept more than 30 inches apart were happy with their relationship

But What If You Can’t Sleep Together?

Many experts agree that couples who cuddle tend to have healthier marriages because it helps deepen feelings of intimacy and comfort.

However, there are some common realities out there that may conflict with a couple’s ability to sleep well together. Many married couples have problems sleeping in the same bed: the reasons can be anything from a snoring situation to disagreements about their bedroom’s temperature.

According to a 2001 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, more than one in ten (12%) married Americans sleep alone. Almost one-half of those with less marital satisfaction (47%) say they are sleeping less today than five years ago and more than three-quarters are more likely to experience a sleep problem than their more happily married counterparts (77% vs. 69%).

The study also showed that sleep problems increased with children.

Ultimately, getting quality sleep is not only one of the best things you can do for the health of your body, but for the health of your relationship. If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep because of your spouse’s sleeping habits, sleeping in separate beds, or even in separate bedrooms, may actually be the best solution of all.

Even if you do sleep apart, there are still ways to support relationship intimacy, such as working to be a better couple during the daytime hours, cuddling and talking before turning in, and, ideally, having sex before you go to sleep.

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