Could Lack of Sleep Be Damaging Your Relationship?
Between the Sheets

Could Lack of Sleep Be Damaging Your Relationship?

Over the last few years, we’ve all heard that lack of sleep can negatively impact your work performance, effectiveness and concentration while driving or doing other tasks, and can affect your mood… but what about your relationship?

Ohio State University recently conducted a study measuring how marital interactions influence a person’s health. They studied 43 couples who had been married from three to 27 years, and averaged from three to nine and a half hours of sleep per night. The couples were filmed discussing the issues that caused the most amount of conflict in their marriage, and researchers studied their positive and negative interactions.

After analyzing the footage, a clear pattern emerged: couples were more likely to be hostile to each other when both were functioning on less than seven hours of sleep per night.

While bickering amongst the couples was normal, how each person handled the argument was not. Couples who suffered from lack of sleep responded to normal marital spats with hostility, negativity, and nastiness. Couples who both got more than seven hours of sleep per night still fought with each other, but the tone of their argument was different; their reactions were constructive rather than hostile, and they argued in a positive rather than negative manner. Getting adequate sleep gave them the patience to approach conflict in a productive way.

Even more interesting, couples participating in this study provided blood samples, before and arguing with their spouse. The samples were studied to measure markers of inflammation, which has been linked with cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. Researchers discovered that the couples who suffered from lack of sleep not only were more hostile to their spouse, but also had higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood after the argument. In short, lack of sleep not only affects your relationship, but is harmful and potentially toxic to your body.

One bonus: researchers noticed a huge difference if just one partner in the relationship got adequate sleep. Couples who had just one rested partner were less likely to engage in hostile exchanges than when both partners were sleep deprived, which worked to "protect" the relationship.

In short, getting at least seven hours of sleep per night is essential to maintaining our relationships and improving daily interactions. Many studies have proved that sleep-deprived people are more unpleasant and hostile in social interactions, tend to use more negative words, and now we know that they are more likely to fight with their partners.