According to a growing body of research, gratitude is an important ingredient to happiness with yourself and in relationships. In addition, the amount of sleep you get might influence the amount of gratitude you feel towards the people in your life.
How does poor sleep affect your relationship?
A recent study examined more than 60 couples, ages 18 to 56, to see how poor sleep affects their relationship. For the first part of the study, the participants wrote down their sleep patterns and how their sleep affected their gratitude towards their partner.
In the second part, the volunteers were videotaped while completing a problem-solving task with their partner. Researchers found that the partners who experienced sleep deprivation showed less appreciation for their significant other.
In a separate part of the study, participants were asked to write down five things they were grateful for, while researchers examined the quality of their previous night’s sleep. The people with poor sleep expressed less gratitude after listing their five things compared to those who had good sleep.
Researchers concluded that relationship problems that stem from feeling underappreciated could be due to sleep deprivation.
[SLIDESHOW: 5 Health Issues that Arise from Sleep Deprivation]
Can poor sleep cause a vicious circle of unhappiness in relationships?
A 2009 study found similar data showing that poor sleep affects relationships. However, this study also found that not only did poor sleep negatively affect relationships for men, but the negative interactions during the day caused women to have poorer sleep, which also affected their partner’s sleep.
The study looked at data from 29 heterosexual, co-sleeping couples without kids. Both partners completed sleep diaries for seven days, and recorded the quality of interactions with their partner six times a day.
Researchers found that poor sleep affects relationship functioning the following day, which leads to worse sleep that night. They also noted that the woman’s perception of the relationship was particularly important, as it impacts both partners’ sleep at night. The researchers concluded that resolving disputes before bed and avoiding confrontation with their partner on days when they’ve had a bad night’s sleep can improve the quality of the relationship.
Can being lonely cause restless sleep?
Not only can poor sleep be problematic for people in relationships, but being lonely can cause you to have restless sleep. In a 2011 study, researchers found that the lonelier someone felt, the worse sleep they got. The study looked at 95 adults in rural South Dakota and compared the degree of loneliness they reported with the measurements of their sleep cycles.
None of the participants were socially isolated, but they still reported loneliness in varying degrees. Researchers found that higher loneliness scores were linked to higher levels of fragmented sleep. They noted that the total amount of sleep didn’t change, but the number of times they woke up during the night did.