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Poor sleep is associated with lower relationship satisfaction in both women and men

June 10, 2009

WESTCHESTER, Ill. -A bidirectional association exists between couples' sleep quality and the quality of their relationship, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Wednesday, June 10, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Results indicate that on a day to day basis, couples' relationship quality affects their sleep, and their sleep also affects their subsequent relationship functioning. For men, better sleep (as indicated by diary-based sleep efficiency) was associated with more positive ratings of relationship quality the next day. For women, negative partner interactions during the day were associated with poorer sleep efficiency for both themselves and their partner that night.

"When we look at the data on a day-by-day basis, there seems to be a vicious cycle in which sleep affects next day relationship functioning, and relationship functioning affects the subsequent night's sleep," said principal investigator Brant Hasler, clinical psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona. "In this cycle, conflict with one's partner during the day leads to worse sleep that night, which leads to more conflict the following day. Although these results are preliminary due to the relatively small sample size and a subjective measure of sleep quality, the woman's perception of the relationship seems particularly important, as it impacts both her own and her partner's subjective sleep quality that night."

The study involved data from 29 heterosexual, co-sleeping couples who did not have children. Each completed sleep diaries for seven days. Each partner was asked to record the quality of interactions with their partner six times a day.

Hasler said that interventions directed at improving either quality of sleep or relationships may provide overall benefits, as the two directly impact each other. Hasler recommends that couples should resolve disputes before going to bed and avoid confrontational discussions on a day when one or both of them had a bad night's sleep.
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SLEEP 2009 will bring together an international body of 6,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,300 research abstracts will be presented at SLEEP 2009, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

Abstract Title: Sleep Disturbance and Daily Relationship Quality in Couples: Evidence for Bidirectional Associations
Presentation Date: Wednesday, June 10
Category: Behavior, Cognition & Dreams
Abstract ID: 1285

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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