Recently, the folks over at Mattress Advisor reached out to me because they had conducted some interesting research on Sleep and Relationship Satisfaction, in which they surveyed 1,000 Americans in relationships about their sleeping habits. They wanted me to explore their findings as well as dive deeper into this topic in regards to how sleep may actually be impacting your relationship. I was surprised to find out, your sleeping habits may be impacting your love life more than you think.
WHEN YOU'RE LACKING SLEEP...
You're more likely to argue
Ohio State University conducted a study with 43 couples and found that those who slept less than 7 hours a night were more likely to argue in a hostile, negative way. This may be due to the fact that people who sleep poorly tend to display more negative emotions and are less successful at conflict resolution. Previous studies also show that men are more likely to fight with their partners after just one night of disturbed sleep. Overall, sleep deprivation makes us short-tempered and unable to concentrate, make decisions or empathize, which is more than likely escalating disagreements and causing needless stress into otherwise happy relationships.
Your relationship satisfaction suffers
The study conducted by Mattress Advisor found that among respondents who reported sleeping poorly, 74.5% said they felt satisfied with their relationship. This number may seem okay, but it actually pales in comparison to those who felt better about their sleep. Among those who felt well-rested from their sleep, a whopping 95.9% felt satisfied with their current romance. Meanwhile, when sleep quality was deemed as poor, 17.3% reported dissatisfaction with their relationship, while only 2.3% of those with a refreshing sleep felt dissatisfied.
How close you feel to your partner, how secure you feel in the relationship, and how many positive emotions you readily attribute to your relationship are all closely tied to sleep quality. Evidence shows that spouses with fewer sleep problems also tend to be happier. It could be that relationship troubles make for poorer quality sleep, or that a bad night’s sleep affects one’s relationship. In any case, chances are that changing one’s sleep habits might improve relationship quality.
You're losing the much-needed sense of humor
A sense of humor, badly needed in any relationship, is the first casualty of sleep deprivation. While studies have found that making someone laugh is perceived as the number one way to attract your romantic partner, people often don’t realize that their own sense of humor fluctuates with their ability to get a good night’s sleep. Humor requires high-level cognition, and a lack of sleep inhibits it, impacting our ability to appreciate verbal humor, and unfortunately, caffeine doesn't fix this problem.
Your sex life suffers
One of the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America polls found that 25% of all couples who live together are too sleep deprived to have sex. Women have it worse than men, as almost one-third of women today are simply too exhausted to participate, leaving them and their partners feeling lonely and disconnected.
Even your chances of having sex decrease
Valley Sleep Center found that sleep deprivation, even just for a single night, can significantly impact our chances of having sex. For one thing, you are simply less attractive overall. One night without sleep increases how visually tired you appear by almost 20% which in turn helps to decrease your attractiveness by 4% and the impression of how healthy you are by 6%. Research has also shown that lack of sleep can increase your cortisol stress hormone level by as much as 45%, causing you to feel more stressed out than usual, and in turn, probably not in the mood to have sex due to the stress.
Can have various meanings
Many respondents were pretty fond of having some space to themselves when sleeping. For men and women alike, the most popular position involved partners sleeping on their sides facing away from each other, with a small amount of space between their bodies.
The second and third favored positions for both genders also involved partners lying on their sides, although slight differences in preference emerged here. While intimate spooning with the man in the outside position ranked second for female respondents, it fell to third place for men. Conversely, male participants ranked spooning with a little more space between partners second overall, while women placed it as their fourth favorite.
After the five-year mark, the popularity of sleeping back to back with some room in between partners grew steadily, ultimately becoming the sleeping arrangement of choice for 37.5% of those with relationships longer than 30 years. Some have suggested that this position indicates a lack of connection between a couple, but it could also just mean the honeymoon phase is over and getting quality sleep becomes more important than intimate cuddling.
Although women demonstrated a preference for physical contact with their partner, they loathed taking on “big spoon” duties in bed. Interestingly, men didn’t seem to mind assuming the little spoon role as much – it didn’t rank among their five most annoying positions.
Can be the difference between sex or no sex
Mattress Advisor's findings suggested positions that already involved quite a bit of contact translated to sex most easily. The sleeping arrangement most correlated with sex featured couples facing each other with limbs intertwined. Close spooning with the man on the outside took second place.
SLEEPING IN SEPARATE ROOMS...
Is usually caused by snoring, among other things
The study conducted at Mattress Advisor found that there were instances where no sleeping position could make sleeping with a partner comfortable. Such circumstances are more common than you may think: Recent research suggests almost 1 in 4 American couples sleep in separate rooms. Among the respondents, snoring caused 23.5% of separate sleeping scenarios. Recent data suggest we lose about an hour of sleep for each night we share a bed with someone who snores.
Other top reasons for sleeping apart were different sleep schedules and illness, but for 11.1% of those surveyed, sleeping separation was due to the aftermath of an argument of some kind.
Communication (and sleep!) is key
Mattress Advisor's findings reveal how varied our favored positions can be and how they can incite intense emotion. But don’t let resentment build about how you share your bed with the one you love. By discussing your sleeping styles directly, you might save yourself some conflict and get that much needed sleep!