PITTSBURGH — For all the debate over which side’s grass is greener and all the jokes by married people about how hard they have it, one study finds getting hitched might actually make you healthier. According to researchers, married people tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when compared to people who are single, divorced, or widowed.
The study, conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, suggests that there is truth to the belief that single people are under greater stress than married people. High levels of stress in the body come with a multitude of negative health consequences, which means that long-term single people could have more health challenges than the married people of the world.
“It’s is exciting to discover a physiological pathway that may explain how relationships influence health and disease,” Brian Chin, a Ph.D. student in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Psychology, says in a university release.
Singles have longer-lasting levels of high stress, compared to married people
To test out this hypothesis, the researchers gathered saliva from 572 different adults between the ages of 21 and 55. They took the saliva samples over a span of three different days, with multiple samples taken each day. Once they gathered the saliva samples they tested them for their cortisol levels to properly gauge how high each participant’s stress levels were.
The researchers found that overall the people who were married had lower levels of cortisol in their saliva. They also found that following the natural cortisol peaks that everyone has in the morning, married people had a faster drop in cortisol levels, while levels in single people remained higher throughout the day.
“These data provide important insight into the way in which our intimate social relationships can get under the skin to influence our health,” says laboratory director and co-author Sheldon Cohen.
The study will be published in the April 2017 edition of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.