Here’s how flying solo affects your sleep, waistline, and more.
Single and not-so-ready to mingle this Valentine’s Day? Before you attempt to erase all the “He put a ring on it!” social media pics from your mind by pouring yourself a glass of something fizzy and belting out “All the Single Ladies,” consider this.
As it turns out, your solo status can offer up some pretty fantastic health perks. Although reams of research indicate that being in a happy long-term relationship is good for your physical and emotional health, being in a not-so-happy relationship is, well, not so good. And there are certain specific benefits that may come from being single that are worth knowing about.
1. Singles may get better sleep.
And more of it, according to a survey from Amerisleep. Their poll of 2,000 Americans found that single folks slept an average of 7.13 hours per night, while those who were married slept an average of 6.71. This could be because bedfellows can cause sleep disturbances—say, you’re trapped in a cuddle or bothered by your partner’s incessant snoring or blanket hogging.
2. Singles may be more physically fit.
Could singledom mean more motivation to work on toning your triceps? Science says maybe so. One study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that singles tend to log more workouts per week than married couples, which may be because couples’ family obligations get in the way of exercise time. Another German study found that singles also have a slightly lower body mass index (BMI), too.
What’s more, happy couples tend to pack on the pounds. One Southern Methodist University study found that relationship satisfaction was positively associated with weight gain. In fact, those in relationships who were less in love (and considering divorce, specifically) were less likely to gain weight. Researchers say this is because happy couples’ weight maintenance efforts tend to be more relaxed, since they may be no longer motivated to attract a new mate. This is great news in the name of love—but not so much for your waistline.
3. Singles may avoid (literal) heartbreak.
Being in a bad relationship or losing a great one could actually cause your heart to break—literally and figuratively. One study found that a bad marriage can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults, which could be due to chronic relationship stress.
What’s more, there’s actually a condition called broken heart syndrome, where extreme emotional or physical stress, such as the loss of a loved one or domestic abuse, can lead to short-term, but severe heart muscle failure.
The takeaway for your ticker: Whether you’re in a relationship with a partner or with yourself—make sure it’s a healthy one.
Single People Sleep Better. Amerisleep, 2017. (Accessed on February 9, 2018 at https://www.amerisleep.com/blog/counting-sheep-losing-sleep)
Exercise Time: Gender Differences in the Effects of Marriage, Parenthood, and Employment. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: University of Calgary, 2004. (Accessed on February 9, 2018 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2004.00029.x/epdf?referrer_access_token=Cbe_LocZn2hF38oKj5M4X4ta6bR2k8jH0KrdpFOxC65Yq-LyiyJJWADePZ51dIkGvy0cUc-lxDjjnoV92SrlbEjkEu9rMScxFN427_KjYw-OoiM1YZhy-JG6wltvA6FLqASETgOG9MDCfEa2fMJTAk-h-aBxnqHUZJX0PA1LR2oMuCNYRYNH3lNF9o-eqZ9-vE3lsWSkDrf_Mfpkc4H5dcUhXHshi4-otLR9l1J0u8mHUd0JIfdzdiDtu2XukuNy)
Marital satisfaction predicts weight gain in early marriage. Dallas, TX: Southern Methodist University, 2013. (Accessed on February 9, 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23477578)
Higher body mass index, less exercise, but healthier eating in married adults: Nine representative surveys across Europe. Berlin, Germany: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 2015. (Accessed on February 9, 2018 at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953615003330)
Bad Marriage, Broken Heart? Age and Gender Differences in the Link between Marital Quality and Cardiovascular Risks among Older Adults. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan State University, 2015. (Accessed on February 9, 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325990)
Broken Heart Syndrome. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (Accessed on February 9, 2018 at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/broken-heart-syndrome)