Doesn't everything always seem worse when you're tired? So why should your relationship be any different? A recent Ohio State University study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, found that sleep-deprived parents are more likely to be hostile toward one another.
Um, guilty as charged! I would (sheepishly) admit that when my kids aren't sleeping well, I am more likely to blow up at the person I'm closest to: my husband. Sorry, honey.
"When people have slept less, it's a little like looking at the world through dark glasses," confirmed Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and the senior author on the study. She added, "Their moods are poorer. We're grumpier. Lack of sleep hurts the relationship."
But did we really need a study to confirm that people are grumpier when they're tired? Or that any aspect of your life can suffer if you are relying on caffeine to get through the day?
What I found most interesting about this potentially unnecessary study is that 43 couples were actually willing to come into a lab and be prodded about issues that cause them the most conflict! I like to do this in the privacy of my own home, personally. But hey, anything in the name of science, right?
Meanwhile, when researchers looked at which couples were fighting the most, they determined that those who were getting less than seven hours of shuteye, were the testiest with one another. You mean some parents get more than seven hours of sleep? Who are these parents and how can I be them?
But a lack of sleep didn't just mean more conflict in the marriage. It seems sleep deprivation can also impact how arguing with your spouse affects your body. The bickering couples? Yeah, as The New York Times reports, they also had higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood after fighting. Yikes!
Commented Kiecolt-Glaser, lack of sleep not only creates conditions ripe for discord in a marriage, but "It makes relationship conflict harder on the body."
Parents who did manage to carve out enough hours of sleep per night were also notably more patient with each other. And probably happier in general with every other aspect of life. But I'm just making an assumption.
The takeaway? Um, get more sleep? But also, take comfort in the fact that according to the study, when one partner is committed to shutting off Netflix earlier than midnight, conflict is less likely.
Easier said than done in my house, when my kids aren't done with homework and activities until very late, and it leaves little time for me and my husband to spend more than half an hour together alone. But if one partner isn't sleep-deprived, there may be more harmony in the home versus when both parties are beyond-exhausted.
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If both parents get enough sleep, maybe all fighting with stop forever! Okay, probably not.