Couples are more likely to argue in a hostile manner if they get less sleep, according to a new study.
Researchers from Ohio State University examined the sleeping patterns and relationships of 43 couples. They found that if both members of a couple get less than seven hours of sleep per night, their arguments tend to get worse. However, if just one of them does get enough sleep they will still argue but the negativity and aggression in these conflicts is significantly lower than their lest rested peers.
Participants in the study had all been married between three and 27 years. They were each asked about how much sleep they got and the answers ranged from three and half hours to nine hours per night. They were then asked to discuss the issues that caused the most conflict in their relationships. These conversations were recorded and analysed to determine how positive or negative the interactions were based on established scoring techniques.
Co-author and relationship scientist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser explained that a lack of sleep was “a little like looking at the world through dark glasses”. People in that situation have poorer moods, are generally “grumpier” which leads to a more bitter, confrontational style of argument.
The researchers also tested the blood of each participant after their arguments. They discovered that those who had less sleep had higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than those who slept well. So a lack of sleep can not only be harmful to a marriage, it also “makes relationship conflict harder on the body” Kiecolt-Glaser said.
The study was published in the academic journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
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