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The Surprising Link Between Sleep and Relationships

couple struggling with sleep and relationships

You just had a bad night of sleep. Suddenly, it leads to an argument with your significant other, and before you know it, you're packing your bags.

That sounds like a bad Hollywood script. Reality is more subtle. But one thing is undeniable: how you sleep and how well you sleep does have the potential for a significant impact on your overall sleep and relationships.

Don't believe us? Keep reading.

Sleep is one of the most significant activities you take on each day. It's also one that you don't often consciously control. Your sleep position, for instance, tells psychologists a lot about how your current relationship is going. And it's not always obvious, either; sleeping apart can communicate security in the relationship.

At the same time, the little amount of sleep you get can have a significant impact on both yourself and your significant other. Consider these five ways in which your sleep can impact and either disrupt or improve your relationship.

1. Lack of Sleep Makes You Irritable

Relationships build on everyday interactions. Through lack of sleep, you could significantly harm those interactions and cause lasting damage to your relationship.

It might just be impatience, waiting for your partner to get to the point finally. Or it may be a lack of the sense of humor your partner loves so much about you. Both of these symptoms are common among people who don't get enough sleep.

An Ohio University study showed that shortened sleep (less than seven hours a night) for both partners in a couple led to significantly more heated arguments than alternatives where at least one partner had slept more. Irritability, as anyone in a relationship knows, is not a great recipe for long-term success.

2. Lack of Sleep Impairs Decision-Making

Being a little on edge might be solvable. A harmed ability to make sound decisions has a significantly worse potential impact on your relationship. Unfortunately, that's what a lack of sleep can do.

As Psychology Today points out, a lack of sleep shuts down parts of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain in charge of executive functioning:

Executive functioning includes all those essential high-level decisions in which we think about future consequences, goals, and expectations, and what is good or bad. It also helps us control our impulses. Sleep deprivation, however, makes us easily distracted, reckless, less innovative, and less able to integrate information, not to mention potentially more willing to take dangerous risks.

Imagine the lack of these abilities in a relationship. The consequences can be devastating.

3. Lack of Sleep Makes You Less Attractive

Yes, most long-term relationships build on much more than physical attraction. But let's be honest: the attractiveness of your partner will always matter, at least to some degree. It's unfortunate, then, that a lack of sleep can make you less attracted to your partner.

That's especially the case during the early phases of a relationship before you know your significant other that well. It's been well-established that we as humans assume attractive people are better, an assumption that only minimizes once we get to know them well.

Here's the problem: sleep deprivation makes people less attractive. A single night can have that effect. We inherently act different on less sleep, and even if that only implicitly changes the way we look, these nonverbal signals make us less attractive and seem more lonely to those around us.

4. Different Sleep Schedules Cause Distance

Back to more established relationships. It's not uncommon for couples to function on different work schedules, whether that be for work or simply because of old habits established before living together. You might want to rethink it, based on its potentially devastating consequences.

According to Time Magazine, every active minute we spend with our partners is precious. Most of us know that and try to stay up late (or wake up early) to get some extra minutes in. But while that's an excellent option, it tends to lead to pressure on one or both partners to alter their sleep schedule and get less rest. Before you know it, we're back to the above problems: sleep deprivation, irritability, and a less healthy relationship.

5. Good Sleep Leads to Better Interactions

Let's not get too negative. Yes, a lack of sleep can have pretty adverse consequences for your relationship. But that doesn't mean you and your partner are doomed. It just means you have to strive for the opposite: healthy sleep that both of you can enjoy and appreciate.

As the New York Times examined, a simple decision to get more and healthier sleep can do wonders for both you and your partner:

Notably, couples with more than seven hours of sleep still argued with each other, but the tone of their conflict was different. When one partner got more rest, it was possible to mitigate the impact of sleep deprivation on the other partner. Couples with one rested partner were less likely to engage in hostile exchanges than when both partners were sleep deprived.

In other words, getting more sleep doesn't make arguments go away. It does, however, change the way you approach these arguments. If at least one partner in the relationship has enough sleep to preserve their decision making and humor, it could do wonders for making sure the argument doesn't get out of hand and lead to more problems.

Build Your Relationship Up With Better Sleep

Yes, better sleep can have a drastic impact on your relationship. No, that doesn't mean you have to kick out a partner who keeps you awake. You might just have to make sure the environment is right for both partners.

On this blog, we've shared plenty of tips and tricks on how to get better sleep. That's a great start, but it also helps to sleep on the right surface. Your mattress and pillows have to be comfortable. We're not saying we're heroes, but we might be able to improve your relationship with that solution. Contact us to learn more about our products.

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