Having a responsive partner is linked to better sleep, research finds.
Responsiveness means more than just listening, it is being tuned in to your partner’s needs and feeling compassion.
The most powerful way of being responsive is firstly, listening to and understanding what they are going through and secondly, responding with sympathy and compassion.
Responsiveness creates a sense of validation and feeling cared for.
Dr Emre Selçuk, the study’s lead author, said:
“Our findings show that individuals with responsive partners experience lower anxiety and arousal, which in turn improves their sleep quality.”
Sleep has the most restorative effect when it is high quality and uninterrupted.
People sleep better when they feel safe and secure, Dr Selçuk said:
“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 conclusions come from 698 married and cohabiting couples.
All completed measures of partner responsiveness and any sleep problems.
The results revealed that those who felt the most cared for, validated and understood had the best sleep.
Dr Selçuk said:
“Taken together, the corpus of evidence we obtained in recent years suggests that our best bet for a happier, healthier, and a longer life is having a responsive partner.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Social Personality and Psychological Science (Selcuk et al., 2016).