How Does Lack Of Sleep Affect Your Relationship? Couples Who Get Less Than 7 Hours Have Worse Fights, Study Finds
I don't know about you, but I can get pretty cranky when I don't get the sleep I need. If you're in a relationship you may have noticed that the days where you are wondering how to stay awake are the days your partner puts you most on edge. Not getting enough sleep has plenty of repercussions such as increased risk of cancer and heart disease, but it turns out there's another negative outcome: It can increase your likelihood of having hostile arguments with your partner. Ohio State University recently studied 43 couples to determine how the amount you sleep affects your relationship.
If you're wondering how much sleep you really need anyways, according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. And as the researchers found, getting less than seven had some consequences. The study's researchers videotaped couples arguing about existing problems in their relationship. They monitored markers such as the proteins IL-6 and TNF-alpha, a rise in which trigger inflammation in the body. While lack of sleep wasn't enough to increase their levels, heated exchanges between the couples were. The study determined that couples who slept less than seven hours a night were much more likely to be hostile and argumentative. However, if even one partner took the initiative to get enough sleep, fights were more likely to be constructive and end positively.
“Research shows that adults need at least seven hours of sleep,” Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. “When we don't get enough sleep we tend to be short tempered, have increased anxiety or mood swings and this can impact your connection with your partner.”
While it may seem like a lofty task to get more sleep, simple changes in routine can make all the difference. "Start preparing for bed early," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "Turn off the TV and computer, which stimulate you, and have a nice, quiet conversation before bed.. Go over your respective days, and share what happened. Then get into bed, relax for a little bit, and you'll both fall asleep."
While that's the ideal situation, it's not always possible. Unfortunately, sometimes it's your partner that's preventing you from getting the sleep you need unintentionally. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help the situation. Here's what to do if your partner is messing with your sleep cycle.
1. If Your Partner Snores, Try Changing Your Position
If you haven't tried ear plugs, that's your first bet. However, if ear plugs didn't do the trick, try to figure out what sleeping position your partner snores least in. The National Sleep Foundation recommends propping pillows up to keep your partner sleeping in that position. If it continues, bring your partner to a sleep clinic, as there may be underlying health issues to deal with. And, if the snoring is still unbearable, it may be time to consider sleeping in different rooms. It may not be ideal, but could be the only way to ensure you get the sleep you need.
2. If Your Partner Tosses And Turns, Try A Bigger Bed
According to CNN, men and women move the same amount in bed but women are more sensitive to it. Luckily there are a few things you can do to ensure your sleep isn't interrupted. The first, and easiest, step is to use two separate blankets and see if that solves your problem. If not, it's time to turn to the mattress.
Sleep researchers suggest that a mattress of 71 inches long is ideal for couples. It allows the two of you to sleep an arms length apart. For scale, an American king is 76 inches. Also, try out a memory-foam mattress as these are considered best for minimizing how much you feel each other's movements. If you really need your space, invest in a split-king mattress, two twin size mattresses set together. Not looking to invest in a new mattress? Go old school and try pulling a wall of pillows between you.
3. If You Go To Bed At Different Times, Try A Compromise
As much as we wish it was true, sometimes our partner doesn't go to sleep at the same time we do. Try to find a compromise to ensure both of you can get the sleep you want. "Set bedtimes and hold each other accountable," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "A lot of couples make pacts to go to bed at the same time for many beneficial reasons, and if the other doesn't quite feel like going to bed, they can read or entertain themselves in the bedroom instead of staying up."
4. If They Want To Cuddle, Try This Move
There's an episode of Friends where Chandler goes to Ross for advice on how to avoid cuddling while sleeping. He suggests the hug and roll, and, while it doesn't go well for Chandler, the advice is actually pretty good. While some people like to cuddle while they sleep, many others, myself included, need their space to be comfortable. It can be hard to bring up to your partner, for fear of them feeling rejected. See if a roll suffices and, if not, just be straight with them, you deserve a comfortable, cuddle-free sleep if its what you desire.
Talk with your partner about what changes you can make to ensure you both get the best sleep you can. Not only is it good for both of you, but better sleep will lead to a better relationship. Plus, open communication is always great too.