Sleep loss could make romance "thankless"

Poor sleep makes us more selfish and less appreciative of our spouses

Couple having a disagreement
A bad sleepless night can reduce how much you appreciate your loved one, causing disagreements

Spouses complain on a regular basis that their partner does not appreciate them enough. A new study from the University of California, Berkeley indicates poor sleep may play a role in this marital discord.

Sleep deprivation makes couples “too tired to say thanks” and can make one or the other partner feel taken for granted.

“Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner’s,” said Amie Gordon, a UC Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study.

The results offer new insights into the emotional interdependence of sleep partners, offering evidence that a bad night’s sleep reduces sensitivity to the partner’s moods and needs.

“You may have slept like a baby, but if your partner didn’t, you’ll probably both end up grouchy,” Gordon said.

More than 60 couples, with ages ranging from 18 to 56, were part of Gordon’s studies. Participants kept a diary of their sleep patterns and how a good or bad night’s rest influenced their appreciation of their significant other.

In another experiment, they were videotaped engaged in problem-solving tasks. Those who had slept badly the night before showed less appreciation for their partner. Overall, the results showed poor sleepers had a harder time counting their blessings and valuing their partners.

What’s the solution? “Make it a point to say to say ‘thanks’ when your partner does something nice,” suggests Gordon. “Let them know you appreciate them.”


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