A Bad Night’s Sleep Causes Fighting in Couples


lifestyle.ca.msn.comOne of the best pieces of marriage advice I heard before walking down the aisle was a nugget of wisdom that’s been circulating rooms of 12-step support meetings for years: before you open you’re mouth, consider whether you’re HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). In our house, the sleeplessness has been the biggest culprit toward needless bickering and fights. Now new research from UC Berkeley confirms that a bad night’s sleep contributes to fighting and hostility among couples.

Lead author Amie Gordon, a doctoral student in psychology, about the study, which was published online in the journal, “Social Psychology and Personality Science” says, “Our research helps illuminate one factor that leads couples to engage in unnecessary and harmful conflict by showing that couples experience more frequent and severe conflicts after sleepless nights.”

Previous studies have shown that poor sleep has a negative impact on romantic relationships, but the new study highlights how poor sleep impacts a couple’s ability to avoid and manage conflict.

Researchers collected data of more than 100 couples that had been together, on average, for two years. In one experiment, 78 participants provided daily reports over a two-week period about sleep quality and relationship stresses. Participants recorded dissonance with their partners on the days following a bad night’s sleep. Even one night of poor sleep was followed by more conflict with their partner.
In our house this means more snapping, lack of patience, heightened sensitivities, and a host of other ingredients that don’t exactly foster intimacy. When everyone sleeps, disagreements are handled much more effectively. I have learned to close my mouth on the days following a bad night’s sleep—or at least not discuss anything important. And the same goes when I’m hungry, angry, and lonely.

Photo credit: lifestyle.ca.msn.com

Originally published on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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