Sleep Disorders

Updated 13 February 2013

Poor sleep can affect your relationship

Spouses and other romantic partners often complain about feeling unappreciated, and a new study suggests poor sleep may play a hidden role.

0

Spouses and other romantic partners often complain about feeling unappreciated, and a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests poor sleep may play a hidden role.

A UC Berkeley study looking into how sleep habits impact gratitude found that sleep deprivation can leave couples "too tired to say thanks" and can make one or the other partner feel taken for granted.

"Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritise our own needs over our partner's," said Amie Gordon, a UC Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study, which she conducted with UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen. Gordon will present her findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists in New Orleans.

The results shed new light on the emotional interdependence of sleep partners, offering compelling evidence that a bad night's sleep leaves people less attuned to their partner's moods and sensitivities. For many couples, nighttime can turn into a battleground due to loud snoring, sheet-tugging or one partner tapping on a laptop while the other tosses and turns.

"You may have slept like a baby, but if your partner didn't, you'll probably both end up grouchy," Gordon said.

The experiment

A sixth year PhD student who focuses on the psychology of close relationships, Gordon noted that many people claim to be too busy to sleep, even priding themselves on how few hours of slumber they can get by on. The observation inspired her, in part, to study how a lack of zzzs might be affecting love lives.

More than 60 couples, with ages ranging from 18 to 56, participated in each of Gordon's studies. In one experiment, participants kept a diary of their sleep patterns and how a good or bad night's rest affected their appreciation of their significant other.

In another experiment, they were videotaped engaged in problem-solving tasks. Those who had slept badly the night before showed less appreciation for their partner. Overall, the results showed poor sleepers had a harder time counting their blessings and valuing their partners.

How to remedy that? "Make sure to say to say 'thanks' when your partner does something nice," suggested Gordon. "Let them know you appreciate them."

(EurekAlert, January 2013)

Read More:

Poor sleep as teen bad for the heart longterm

Poor sleep makes the brain age faster

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

Neera Bhikha is a Neurophysiologist at SandtonMedi Clinic in Johannesburg. She specialises in Neurodiagnostic testing which includes EEG (routine and long term monitoring sleep studies), Polysomnograms, Nerve conduction studies/EMG studies.
This forum will be closed until 5 January 2015.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules