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11 Small Acts of Kindness for a Better Relationship (and Sleep)

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When life gets busy, we sometimes stop paying attention to what's really important. Find out how you can strengthen your relationship with your partner by being attentive.


Every Saturday, Sarah, 30, and her boyfriend switch off their phones and head to the nearby bakery to buy some fresh bread for their weekend breakfast. Their outing includes a stroll through the farmers market, followed by a walk home through the nearby park. After that, they simply enjoy each other's company.


"It is our weekly ritual to consciously spend time together. Our families and friends know by now that we are not available on Saturdays," says Sarah.


Creating these little islands in your everyday life can do wonders for a relationship. Too many people rush from A to B on autopilot mode. This often comes not only at the expense of your health but also of your relationships.


It is time to be present again – to nurture the relationships with your partner to have a happy and healthy future together.


What's more, everyday stress and a lack of sleep have a huge impact on your emotional empathy. A study has shown that when you haven't slept well, you can be irritable, angry and act impulsively the next day – and that damages the relationship with your partner.


The solution? Science has an answer: cultivate compassion. It doesn't have to be a grand vacation to faraway lands, even small acts of kindness spread throughout everyday life generate joy to strengthen the relationship.


This includes figuring out your love language according to the popular concept by Gary Chapman – whether it's words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch or quality time – and focusing on the key ingredient of happy relationships: attention.


Here are some examples of small acts of kindness you can try:

1. Establish a New Routine

Managing your everyday life is exhausting, but you can still establish a few nice routines for you and your partner. This doesn't have to involve a whole day on weekends, but it could mean a date for pizza on Friday, or meeting after work in a bar on Wednesday. How about a walk after dinner? Or one evening a week where you turn off the TV, sit on your Sleep Number® bed and talk. It can be anything that enriches your life and makes it feel special. Quality time is an important factor for all relationships, regardless of the language of love.


2. Switch Off Your Devices

Do you often sit on the sofa and scroll through social media? Just switch it off – put your mobile phone in flight mode and see what happens. What can you both do to have a nice evening? Play a game, make dinner together, do yoga stretches, or just sit down with a cup of tea and have a conversation.


Fun fact: Sleep Number SleepIQ® sleepers who do gentle exercise, like yoga, get the most restful sleep.* So, good excuse to do some yoga moves together.


Give your partner all your attention and you will be surprised what is on the other person's mind. Opening up and sharing each other's feelings is a good way to get closer again. And not only that: you will both sleep better too.


3. Do the Other Person a Favor

Your partner has left an important package at home and just can't get around to taking it to the post office. You are on your way to the supermarket and will pass the post office anyway. Take it with you and your partner has one less task to do on their list. In the five languages of love, this counts as an "act of service" and can be a good way to show your partner that you care and want to help to get things done. Especially if it's something he or she doesn't like to do, like taking out the garbage, cleaning the bathroom or doing a few dishes. Doing someone a favor can be so simple.


4. Surprise Your Significant Other

Change up your daily schedule with a small surprise. This could be tickets to a concert or a movie, making pancakes for breakfast on a weekday morning or changing the bedding to fresh True Temp™ sheets for hot or cold sleepers. Why not? Especially if you know your partner is having a stressful time, think of ways to make life a little easier and better. Maybe it's their favorite dinner when they walk in the door.


Fact: 83% of couples sleep too hot or too cold.** What could you do to help your partner sleep more comfortably? Temp-balancing bedding is useful for hot and cold sleepers— and is the gift that keeps on giving every time you lay down to sleep.


5. Check in With Each Other

We get it. You're both really busy with work and your family. But what about a quick call during lunchtime; a short message saying you think of your partner? That'll definitely put a smile on the face of your significant other. If your partner's love language is “words of affirmation", it's especially thoughtful if you leave a written note in his or her lunchbox, book or on their mirror with a dry erase marker.


6. Try Something New Together

Experiencing something new together is an exciting adventure from everyday life. Maybe your partner would like to go bouldering? Or go kayaking? Or, explore a town nearby. Even if you're not that keen on the thing itself, make an effort for your partner. You will be surprised what new qualities you can discover in each other.


7. Hug Each Other

Science shows a hug can work wonders. A hug of 20 seconds can release stress and lower cardiovascular reactivity for better wellbeing. Make a conscious effort to hug your partner – whether in the kitchen while cooking or saying goodbye in the morning. Especially if your partner's love language is “physical touch."


8. Compliment Your Partner

When you notice your partner doing something nice, acknowledge it. Don't take it for granted – say "thank you" often. The love language “words of affirmation" goes a long way when you consciously pay attention to it. Sometimes you may not notice the little things. But if your partner has done something important, given a well-received lecture or gotten a pay rise, for example, tell him or her how proud you are.


9. Celebrate the Small Things

Sometimes life holds special challenges, such as a renovation or a big move. Celebrate your achievements with a nice dinner and a glass of wine. (A bottle of bubbly for spontaneous toasts is a good idea!) Even if there are boxes everywhere and you can't find the right glasses. Make room for the good things.


Sleep Tip: Just don't eat too much right before bedtime since it can interrupt your sleep quality. SleepIQ® sleepers who never eat before going to bed are the most restful overall and get the highest SleepIQ® score, compared to those who eat at bedtime.*


10. Plan an Adventure

Having something to look forward to connects you as a couple, and it adds an element of excitement to everyday life. Plan a weekend away for two or a nice afternoon outing. The main thing is to make plans together.


11. Respect Each Other's Bedroom Preferences

Nine out of ten couples prefer different mattress firmness***. And, as mentioned above, 83% sleep too hot or too cold.** To sleep and feel your best, you have to understand that you might sleep differently than your partner. BUT, that doesn't mean you both have to compromise and get mediocre sleep. You can both sleep really well in the same bed. In fact, sleepers who routinely use their Sleep Number 360® smart bed features and SleepIQ® technology get 28 minutes more restful sleep per night – that’s up to 170 hours per year!****


The best thing about small acts of kindness? They spread joy – and come back to the giver tenfold. It's an important part of a happy relationship. As the saying goes: "A good deed every day" not only makes your partner happier, but also yourself, as numerous studies prove. For an all-around better relationship – and thus, better sleep. When you spread beams of joy, everyone benefits.



Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal wellbeing and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.



*Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/2/21 to 1/1/22 and self-reported responses of sleepers using SleepIQ® technology from 5/12/19 – 1/13/22

**Results from a 2020 Sleep Number survey of 1,004 respondents who reported they or their partner sometimes sleep too hot or too cold.


***Based on 2001-2012 Sleep Number customer data collected in-store during customer bed test experience. 86.5% of couples (9:10) have different Sleep Number settings from one another.


****Based on average SleepIQ® data from 8/1/21 – 2/28/22 of sleepers who engaged with their Sleep Number® setting, SleepIQ® data and FlexFit™ smart adjustable base. 

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