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When Wives Don't Sleep, Marriage Suffers

Researchers: When Marriage Is Happier, Husbands Sleep Less

Explaining Gender Differences continued...

Other experts agree.

“We’re stoic,” says William J. Strawbridge, PhD, an adjunct professor in the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California in San Francisco. In a study published in 2005, Strawbridge also found that poor sleep was related to marital dissatisfaction.

“It’s true that men just don’t want to talk about stuff like that and don’t seem as sensitive to it. Interaction in a marriage is more important to a woman than to a man,” he says.

On nights following days when they rated their marriages as more positive, however, men got less sleep.

“For men, on average, when they reported higher marital functioning, they had more frequent sexual activity,” Troxel says. “It was not the same for women.”

Previous studies have shown that trouble sleeping and unhappy marriages go hand in hand, but researchers say they weren’t able to tell if poor sleep was contributing to the emotional upset or if fighting was disrupting sleep.

This new study gives weight to the argument that poor sleep can drive emotional upset.

That’s valuable, Hale says, because “we need to be reminded that sleep should be a priority for not only functioning throughout the day physically and cognitively but emotionally and socially.”

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