Sleepless nights can turn lovers into fighters

July 9, 2013 by Yasmin Anwar, University of California - Berkeley
Sleepless nights can turn lovers into fighters
Poor sleep can turn pillow talk into bickering.

(Medical Xpress)—Relationship problems can keep us awake at night. But new research from UC Berkeley suggests that sleepless nights also can worsen lovers' fights.

UC Berkeley psychologists Amie Gordon and Serena Chen have found that people are much more likely to lash out at their over relationship conflicts after a bad night's sleep.

"Couples who fight more are less happy and less healthy," said Gordon, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study published online in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"Our research helps illuminate one factor that leads couples to engage in unnecessary and harmful conflict by showing that couples experience more frequent and severe conflicts after sleepless nights," she added.

While previous studies indicate that poor sleep has a negative impact on romantic relationships, these new findings shed more light on how bad sleep compromises couples' ability to avoid and manage conflict, researchers said.

"For the first time, to our knowledge, we can see the process of how the nature, degree, and resolution of conflict are negatively impacted by poor sleep," said Chen, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.

Researchers collected data on the sleep habits of more than 100 couples who had been together, on average, for nearly two years. They gauged participants for depression, anxiety and other in order to focus solely on the link between the couples' sleep quality and .

In one experiment, 78 in provided daily reports over a two-week period about their sleep quality and relationship stresses. Overall, participants reported more discord with their partners on the days following a bad night's sleep.

"Even among relatively good , a poor night of sleep was associated with more conflict with their romantic partner the next day," Chen said.

In a second experiment, 71 couples came into the laboratory, rated how they had slept the previous night, and then, while being videotaped, discussed with their partners a source of conflict in their relationship. Each partner then rated his or her own and his or her partner's emotional interactions during the conflict conversation, and assessed whether they resolved the disagreement.

The participants who had slept poorly and their partners reported feeling more negatively toward one another during the conflict discussion, according to observations and their reports. Their conflict-resolution skills and ability to accurately gauge their partners' emotions also suffered after a bad night's sleep.

Explore further: Poor sleep can leave romantic partners feeling unappreciated

More information: spp.sagepub.com/content/early/ … 948550613488952.full

Related Stories

Poor sleep can leave romantic partners feeling unappreciated

January 19, 2013
Spouses and other romantic partners often complain about feeling unappreciated, and a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests poor sleep may play a hidden role.

Excessive Facebook use can damage relationships, study finds

June 6, 2013
Facebook and other social networking web sites have revolutionized the way people create and maintain relationships. However, new research shows that Facebook use could actually be damaging to users' romantic relationships. ...

How men and women cooperate

June 25, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—While men tend to match their partners' emotions during mutual cooperation, women may have the opposite response, according to new research.

Teen break-ups occur independent of how well couples handle disagreements

April 17, 2013
Adults who resolve and recover from conflict are known to be happier in their romantic relationships but the same does not hold true for teen romances, according to research published April 17 in the open access journal PLOS ...

Age affects how married couples handle conflict

July 1, 2013
Arguing with your spouse about where to go on vacation or how to handle the kids? As you age, you may find yourself handling these disagreements more often by changing the subject, according to a new San Francisco State University ...

Tired and edgy? Sleep deprivation boosts anticipatory anxiety

June 26, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—UC Berkeley researchers have found that a lack of sleep, which is common in anxiety disorders, may play a key role in ramping up the brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying.

Recommended for you

A depressed spouse may increase one's own cognitive decline, study finds

August 21, 2018
Researchers at Yale School of Public Health and their scientific partners have found that having a depressed spouse can increase one's own depressive symptoms as well as cognitive decline over time in late life. 

Depressed patients see quality of life improve with nerve stimulation

August 21, 2018
People with depression who are treated with nerve stimulation experience significant improvements in quality of life, even when their depression symptoms don't completely subside, according to results of a national study ...

Study identifies 'compulsivity circuit' in heavy alcohol drinkers

August 21, 2018
Heavy alcohol drinkers attempt to acquire alcohol despite the threat of a negative consequence more so than light drinkers, a study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging has found, and this behavior ...

Beauty is simpler, and less special, than we realize

August 20, 2018
Beauty, long studied by philosophers, and more recently by scientists, is simpler than we might think, New York University psychology researchers have concluded in a new analysis. Their work, which appears in the journal ...

Bilingual children who speak native language at home have higher intelligence

August 20, 2018
Children who regularly use their native language at home while growing up in a different country have higher IQs, a new study has shown.

People are more honest when using a foreign tongue, research finds

August 17, 2018
New UChicago-led research suggests that someone who speaks in a foreign language is probably more credible than the average native speaker.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.