June 13, 2011 (Minneapolis) -- When couples fight, sleep often suffers. Now a new study shows that the reverse may also be true. Not sleeping well, it seems, can make for a rockier relationship.
The study, which was presented at the SLEEP 2011 conference in Minneapolis, found that wives who have trouble falling asleep are more likely to report negative interactions with their spouse the next day. Husbands were also affected, rating the couple's interactions as less positive the day after their wives tossed and turned.
“I don’t think that’s very surprising; I think we’ve seen it in ourselves,” says Lauren Hale, PhD, a sleep expert and associate professor of preventive medicine at the Stony Brook School of Medicine in Stony Brook, N.Y. Hale reviewed the study for WebMD, but was not involved in the research. “Most of us notice it in the reverse. If you’re really ill rested, you can be nasty to people.”
Another finding that couples may recognize: On days when husbands reported more positive interactions with their wives, the husbands got less sleep.
“Shorter sleep duration itself is not necessarily meaning that you sleep poorly,” says study researcher Wendy Troxel, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“Couples that have more positive interactions during the day may be engaging in other activities in bed at night,” she says.