Whether we like to admit it or not, poor sleep can make us snappy, feel grumpy and look a little worse for wear. If this continues over a period of time, it can start to affect our moods and our health. Despite the negative effects, almost half of Brits are only getting six hours of sleep or less!
If sleep has such a significant impact on everything else, surely it must affect our relationships too? But is there any evidence?
Get ready to grumble
This may not surprise you, but a study from the University of California found that following a night of poor sleep, couples are more likely to argue with each other. Not only that, sleep deprivation also seems to affect people’s ability to ‘read’ their partner’s emotions. Plus, you’re more likely to feel negative, which is bound to lead to further ferocious arguments. Another study from the same university showed that not sleeping soundly can result in a lack of appreciation for the relationship you’re in, too.
We thought we'd get an experts opinion... so we spoke with Lisa Artis from The Sleep Council, who agrees that relationships are bound to be impacted by poor sleep.
“Disrupted sleep can leave many couples short tempered with each other, leading to rows and squabbles,” Lisa tells us. “Partner disturbance and snoring are two of the most common complaints when it comes to being kept awake at night.”
According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, married women are most likely to suffer from the negative effects of poor quality or little sleep. That’s not to say husbands are resistant, but they are apparently less likely to start fights with their spouse.
How can you learn to sleep better together?
The evidence is pretty clear: insufficient shut-eye can cause you to hit out at your partner - which is understandable when it might be their snoring or lack of respect for your personal sleeping space that’s keeping you up all night. Here are some ways you can fix the most common problems couples face:
Bigger is better
Having to sleep with someone who hogs the duvet is one of our biggest gripes, but we are all guilty of sheet stealing. Hence it’s vital to have a large duvet – that way, neither one of you should wake in the middle of the night, freezing cold. If problems persist, consider wearing thick pyjamas and bed socks to make sure you stay nice and warm.
For those who like to stretch out in bed, but cannot do so without accidentally hitting their partner in the eye, Lisa believes a bigger bed could do wonders.
“Did you know that a standard double bed (135cm x 190cm) only gives you and your partner the same space to sleep as a cot? With the average person tossing and turning up to 60 times a night, you’re bound to be disturbed by a restless sleeper,” she explains.
“You’d be amazed what a difference a king size (150cm x 200cm) can make even though it’s just 15cm wider and 10cm longer – yet recent consumer research we’ve done suggests only 28.4 per cent buy a king or super king size. Not only is it an investment in your sleep, it’s investment for your relationship.”
Once you’ve bought a new bed and duvet, consider replacing your old sheets too. Worn bed linen can feel rough and therefore irritate the skin. Make sure you’re wrapping yourself up in something luxurious every night; you’ll really notice the difference and, quite frankly, don’t you deserve the best?