Can Losing Sleep Cause Problems in Your Marriage?
Women who have a hard time getting to sleep are more likely to have issues with their husbands the next day, according to a study that was presented at the SLEEP 2011 conference.
"Women tend to be more sensitive to the highs and lows of relationships, and they tend to be more communicative when they're feeling the stress," said researcher Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "So the fact that women's sleep problems affect both their own and their partner's next day's marital functioning may say something about women's expressiveness, whereas men tend to kind of repress or withhold negative emotions."
Troxel and her team observed 35 couples who had "healthy married lives." They wore sensors to monitor their movement in bed for 10 nights. Then during the day, the participants were asked to journal about how their relationship was going -- rating how they felt toward their partners after good night's rest or a lack of sleep.
The findings showed that women who tossed and turned a lot were more likely to get cranky with their husbands the next day, but men who didn't sleep well weren't testy with their wives and didn't experience any major mood changes.
William J. Strawbridge, an adjunct professor at the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California in San Francisco, thinks it's because men are "stoic" and expressing feelings is more of a woman thing.
"It's true that men just don't want to talk about stuff like that and don't seem as sensitive to it," Strawbridge told WebMD. "Interaction in a marriage is more important to a woman than to a man."
But researchers found that the less sleep husbands got, the more they reported their marriages were going well. The authors theorized that was probably because they weren't just spending time in bed with their wives sleeping.
"For men, on average, when they reported higher marital function, they had more frequent sexual activity," Troxel said. "It was not the same for women."
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