6 Ways Sleep Affects Your Relationships
Did you know that a lack of sleep can affect your relationships? It’s true! According to the National Sleep Foundation, 7-9- hours is optimal for adults. Yet, 42% of Americans report getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
Since the 1940’s the average amount of sleep adult Americans get has decreased by more than an hour. Average sleeping hours have gone down and the divorce rate has gone up. You may or may not think that those two are related. Nevertheless, sleep does have an effect on your relationships. Here’s how:
- Lack of sleep and poor sleep can deplete your willpower and can decrease your self-management and emotional intelligence. This can exaggerate minor disagreements in your relationships and blow them way out of proportion. In a 14-day daily experience study, participants reported more conflict in their romantic relationships following poor nights of sleep. If you find that you’re experiencing more stress in your relationships, consider going to bed earlier.
- Lack of sleep can also adversely affect your relationships by decreasing your sense of humor. This may seem like a small thing; however, a good sense of humor has been shown to positively affect relationships. Humor is an effective stress buffer. It has also been shown to be a source of attraction, so if your tired and grumpy? You may not seem as attractive!
- Sleep affects your mood. People who are sleep deprived have reported feeling more easily irritated, more overly-sensitive, and more depressed.
When we were first married, we got a lot of good advice from family and friends. One piece of advice, however, actually proved detrimental. And this advice was repeated to us by several people: Here it is: “Never go to bed angry.” Although it sounds good on the surface, we found that trying to stay up late to resolve an issue only increased the level of the conflict. The later it got, the more depleted our willpower. The more depleted our willpower, the more grumpy and stubborn each of us got.
Over the years we’ve discovered that when disagreements happen at night, it’s best to call a temporary truce, go to bed and then discuss the issue again in the morning, after each has had a good night’s sleep. In the morning, we’re usually able to have greater empathy and understanding and much more patience to assist us in resolving the issue. We could also see the humor in our depleted dialog and ridiculous reasoning from the night before. Our experience fits right in with recent research on conflict and relationships. Here’s a direct quote from the study:
“One partner’s poor sleep was associated with a lower ratio of positive to negative affect (observed and self-reported), as well as decreased empathic accuracy for both partners during a conflict conversation.”
Ok, that’s enough bad news. Here’s some good news facts on how getting enough sleep can benefit your relationships?
- The research we quoted earlier also shows that “conflict resolution is more likely to occur when both partners have had adequate sleep.”
- Studies also show that getting regular, adequate sleep each night, increases optimism. And couples who are more optimistic have a greater outlook on life and on their relationships.
- People also report experiencing greater levels of gratitude with an increase in proper sleep. Gratitude in relationships builds positive emotion which increases happiness and wellbeing.
So, there you have it. Based on the research, chances are if you improve your sleep habits, you’ll also improve your relationships! In other words, if your partner is weepy, he might just be sleepy! And if you find that you’re snapping, you may want to try napping! Thanks for joining us!