We all know that being sleep deprived makes you irritable, but to what extent? New research from The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research suggests that sleeping less causes you to behave more negatively during a conflict. It also puts you at risk for stress-related inflammation. Specifically, the study focused on couples. The research team recruited 43 couples who would provide blood samples, answer questions about their sleep habits, and then try to resolve a topic that sparks conflict in their relationship.
When both partners slept less than seven hours the night before, they were much more reactive during the conflict, and responded to each other with increased hostility, criticism, and contempt. For every hour of sleep lost, the researchers found that levels of two known inflammatory markers rose 6 percent. Higher levels of these inflammatory factors have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
The study reported that half of the couples had slept less than the recommended seven hours, which is higher than the current national average. The CDC reports 35% of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep.
The good news is that if one partner was well-rested, the disagreements tended to be neutralized. This just one more reason why getting enough sleep should be prioritized. Better sleep brings happier marriages!