Sleep Couples
sleep deprived couple Wavebreakmedia/Istock.com

Couples who sleep less are in danger of nastier fights.

September 11, 2017

Not sleeping enough is screwing up your love life, study says

It’s already well documented that lack of sleep can do horrific wonders to your body and mind, and new research points to yet another reason to hit snooze: saving your marriage.

A study out of Ohio State University took blood samples from 43 heterosexual married couples to observe both the physical and the marital danger in their sleep deprivation. Common problems among the couples may sound familiar to anyone who has ever been in a relationship, including money management, spending time together, and dealing with in-laws.

The way couples dealt with their issues, however, seemed to differ depending on how much sleep they got, and the physical toll of a disagreement was more severe for the sleep deprived.

By collecting the couples' blood samples, study authors looked at the physical aspect of sleep deprivation specifically in regards to marital conflict. As sleeping problems can induce cell inflammation that makes basic functioning feel difficult, couples may find themselves constantly on the heels of a fight.

Looking at the inflammation affects among self-reported sleep deprived couples, the study found that couples who got through problems more constructively and positively suffered less inflammatory reactions physically, post fighting.

“Specifically, people’s short sleep did not relate to inflammatory increases when they expressed their own feelings more or when their partner reappraised or expressed their emotions more,” the study said.

If at least one-half of the couple is getting more sleep, the side effects are accordingly less dire.

“When both partners slept less, couples interacted in a more hostile way than when at least one partner slept more,” the study said. “These data point to the combination of short sleep and marital conflict as a novel path to heightened inflammation, a risk that partners’ emotion regulation strategies may counteract.”

Take a look at the full report, published earlier this year in the journal Psychoneuoendocrinology.