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Sleeping Together: Why Catching Zzzs Together Improves Your Health (PHOTOS)

06/05/2012 05:45 EDT | Updated 06/06/2012 09:47 EDT
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We know that getting lots of sleep is good for you, but is getting lots of sleep with something else in bed with you even better?

A new study suggests couples get health benefits from catching zzz's together, and more so could be a major reason why people with close relationships tend to be in better health and live longer.

"Sleep is a critically important health behavior that we know is associated with heart disease and psychiatric well-being," Wendy M. Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, tells the Wall Street Journal. "It happens to be this health behavior that we do in couples."

Indeed, in one of her studies, women in long-term, secure, stable relationships fell asleep more quickly and woke up less during the night than single women or women who had recently split up.

Shared sleep in healthy relationships may lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting oxytocin -- a hormone known to ease anxiety.

"The psychological benefits we get having closeness at night trump the objective costs of sleeping with a partner," Troxel says.

So snore away.

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