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Sleep may be compromised with a bed partner

Sleep may be compromised with a bed partner
Graphical abstract. Credit: Current Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.11.065

If you're having trouble sleeping, perhaps contact with a bedmate is causing the problem, say University of Michigan researchers.

Ada Eban-Rothschild, assistant professor in U-M's Department of Psychology, and colleagues tracked the sleep behavior of mice while in a . They noticed that these small rodents seek prior to sleep initiation and cuddle up during sleep. They further show that cuddling during sleep is driven by an inner motivation for prolonged physical contact, which they termed "somatolonging."

The study, published in Current Biology, highlights the strong need for in species other than humans.

"The lack of this kind of contact was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which people experienced somatolonging," Eban-Rothschild said.

Cuddling during sleep doesn't come without a cost; the mice often disrupt each other's sleep. Similarly, in humans, co-sleeping isn't always positive, and insomnia can be transmitted between bed partners. So, why do humans and other animals willingly choose situations that might compromise their sleep? Researchers don't yet know.

On the other hand, co-sleeping individuals show synchronization in multiple neurophysiological measures, including the timing of sleep/wake onset and REM sleep. In the study, the researchers used advanced wireless devices and to monitor multiple mice within a group for 24 hours simultaneously.

The mice were willing to forgo their preferred sleep location to gain access to social contact. This suggests that the motivation for prolonged physical contact drives huddling behavior, the researchers said.

They also noticed coordination in multiple neurophysiological features among co-sleeping , including in the timing of falling asleep and waking up and sleep intensity.

Notably, the timing of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep was synchronized among co-sleeping male siblings but not among co-sleeping female siblings or unfamiliar mice. This suggests that an individual's internal state, such as feeling safe, controls the degree of synchronization.

More information: Maria I. Sotelo et al, Neurophysiological and behavioral synchronization in group-living and sleeping mice, Current Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.11.065

Journal information: Current Biology
Citation: Sleep may be compromised with a bed partner (2023, December 27) retrieved 23 April 2024 from
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