Sleep Toolkit for Couples: 5 Tips to Improve Intimacy and Slumber

A lack of sleep can negatively impact relationships, causing stress, irritability, and impaired conflict management. A UC Berkeley study found that sleep-deprived couples reported feeling angry and frustrated, with diminished conflict resolution abilities. Experts recommend sleep-inducing tips for couples, including magnesium soaks, romantic teas, massages, creating a sensual atmosphere, and connecting through breath.

Plenty of seductive things happen in bedrooms, so it’s not surprising to discover that intimacy and slumber are intertwined. And it turns out that not getting enough Z’s can negatively impact your love life, according to science. 

Increased stress, irritability, and mood swings are just a few of the side effects of sleep deprivation in relationships, says Funke Afolabi-Brown, MD, sleep medicine physician at The Restful Sleep Space. 

Keep reading to learn more about how sleep deprivation affects relationships and get sleep tips for couples from experts. 

How does sleep affect relationships?

How does lack of sleep affect relationships? A new UC Berkeley study researched sleep deprivation in couples and found that after sleep loss, subjects reported feeling angry, argumentative, and frustrated with their overall relationships. 

To make things worse, their capacity to manage and avoid conflict had also been diminished. Other effects of poor sleep include “impaired memory and cognition, anxietydepression, and burnout,” all of which can hurt your relationship, according to Afolabi-Brown.

Sleep tips for couples

​To get some steamy and sleep-inducing tips for couples sleeping together, we turned to experts on sleep, natural health, and intimacy for answers.   

Get sudsy in a magnesium soak

Research shows increasing body temps in a bath helps lull you into dreamland, and the restorative properties of magnesium can naturally move that process along. 

Try facing your partner on opposite sides of the tub. Begin winding down by speaking in a whisper. Gently suds each other up as you wash away the day’s tension. 

Drink a romantic potion 

Sip an infusion made of passion fruit or lemon balm—or combine them for a full-bodied slumber elixir. Each tea helps relieve stress and anxiety, naturally making you calmer and promoting sleep, explains Tsao-lin Moy, Chinese medicine specialist and founder of Integrative Healing Arts

And turn up the heat by gazing into one another’s eyes, suggests Alexandra Stockwell, MD, relationship and intimacy coach and host of the Intimate Marriage Podcast. 

Give a massage

Along with stroking each other’s back, neck, and shoulders, Moy suggests massaging a special pressure point along the base of the skull where the muscles attach, called “peaceful sleep” (or “Anmian”),  which helps with insomnia

Keep in mind, the person massaged may fall asleep before a swap can happen, cautions Stockwell. “Oddly enough, the one who is more sleepy is better suited to give the massage to help the other one relax and let go of the day’s stresses,” she adds.  

Create a sensual atmosphere 

Embrace your partner for at least 20 seconds, then take turns sharing things you appreciate about each other, says Stockwell. 

As you deepen your bond, inhale the lush earthy aroma of vetiver essential oil. Moy likes its calming effects and recommends placing several drops in a diffuser or on cotton balls. 

Connect through breath 

Allow your breathing to slow and release tension. Lie in bed, holding hands, “listening to a guided meditation or instructions for breathwork,” suggests Stockwell. 

She offers another option as well: “While one person does breathing exercises, the other can gently hold their feet. Then switch. This also contributes to connection and a feeling of intimacy.” 

FAQs

Why is sleep important for relationships?

During sleep, you have the chance to restore mind-body balance, giving you the bandwidth to interact with your partner lovingly and compassionately. Proper rest can also improve your mood and help regulate emotions, even increase your sex drive, says Afolabi-Brown. 

Instead of being frustrated by sleep loss, your attitude toward your partner is clearer and more optimistic. “Sleep enhances emotional intelligence and patience,” says Stockwell—and if disagreements happen, you can give each other the benefit of the doubt. 

What is the most comfortable way for couples to sleep?

Some may cuddle and spoon, others prefer to stretch out in their own space. While research shows couples sleep more soundly together than alone, like relationships themselves, the dynamic between every person is unique. That’s why it’s important to always communicate. 

If your partner has difficulty falling asleep, see if you can help. Take notice if your position is interfering with their comfort. Likewise, if you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to talk about it. And always stay mindful of one another’s need for sleep. Your relationship will thank you. 

Next, check out our guide to the most common couples sleeping positions and what they mean.

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