When the fairer sex in a marriage doesn’t get her much needed beauty rest, it can lead to negative effects on marital bliss. According to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, when wives are unable to fall asleep at night, marital interactions of both partners are impacted the following day, while sleep issues of husbands have little bearing on marital woes. The new research was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis.
Lead researcher Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University’s School of Medicine noted, “The findings suggest a wife’s prolonged inability to sleep predicts her own and her husband's marital interactions, which tend to be more negative and less positive.”
For their analysis the researchers monitored the sleep patterns of 35 married couples with noninvasive sensors for a total of ten nights. The healthy couples had an average age of 32, and were mainly white professionals. The participants kept electronic diaries to track whether daily marital interactions were negative or positive, notating marital communications such as being criticized or ignored, as well as whether they received support and were cared for.
Findings revealed that significantly more negative interactions were initiated the following day by wives who experienced sleep disturbances the night before, but when husbands experienced sleep difficulties, little difference was noted in the next day’s marital relations.
Regarding the results, Troxel explained, “Women are generally more expressive and tend to drive the emotional climate of a couple’s relationship.”
She noted that wives who are unable to sleep are more likely to be irritable, convey stress, and verbalize feelings. Troxel then added, “Men are more likely to repress their feelings or not be as aware or tuned into the climate of change taking place.”
Troxel further explained that the sleeping difficulties of wife can be the result of a stressful cycle because marital issues may lead to insomnia and other sleep disturbances that in turn lead to negative marital interaction. She pointed out, “It’s a cyclical process that can get under the skin of couples and put them into negative trajectories when it comes to their mental health and well-being.” She also cautioned, “Sleep problems need to be clinically addressed and perhaps marriage therapy started if the relationship is in trouble.”
Prior research in which Troxel has been involved has shown that women who experienced the stable presence of a husband or partner enjoyed better sleep quality, and that wives in happy marriages experienced fewer sleep difficulties.
In general, the results of the latest study strongly indicate that the sleep quality of the wife is associated with the tone of the following day’s marital interaction, instead of vice versa. Troxel said, “Intuitively, it makes sense that you don't function at your best when you're sleep-deprived, but there’s shockingly little data on how this affects marital relationships.”
There are a number of reasons why you may not be sleeping well, but the end result can effect hormone levels, the appearance of skin and hair, depression, heart health and cholesterol levels, and even our weight. Chronic sleep deficit causes detrimental effects on one’s ability to remain alert and attentive, and leads to cumulative effects on performance that could become a safety risk.
In today’s busy society, electronic overload and overstimulation are common causes for sleepless nights, as are stress and the consumption of alcohol. There are ways to improve your sleep performance, without resorting to prescription medication or a sleep study.
Turn down the light/block out the night: When getting ready for bed, opt for a small table light or dimmed overhead lighting, rather than full-strength light. Make sure that light is blocked from the outside, through the use of shades, curtains or blinds. Remove any offending light sources, from a cable box, DVR, blinking computer, answering machine or cordless or mobile phone. And try to eliminate outside noises by using earplugs or a white noise machine on low. (There’s even an app for that!)
Outfit the bed/cradle the head: Mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows all can contribute to sleep issues. Make sure you bed is in good shape and flipped regularly. Splurge on comfortable soft sheets (100 percent Egyptian cotton are good for both comfort and breathability). Find a blanket and comfortable that help maintain a comfortable temperature and won’t require that you make multiple adjustments throughout the night. And finally, find a pillow that is not to small, not too hard, and just right for your head and neck.
Chill with a pill (or a sip or a bite): Try one of these natural, non-prescription sleep aids: