Good sleep makes for better relationships

Good sleep makes for better relationships
Good sleep makes for better relationships

February is the month of love and while many couples are planning date nights, heart-shaped treats and other romantic gestures, science suggests they might be better off focusing their efforts on sleep!

One study by Ohio State University found that while sleep problems can boost inflammation and jeopardise interpersonal functioning, these risks may be magnified in couples,” says Dale Harley, Sales & Marketing Executive at Restonic, a leading bedding brand in Southern Africa. “Science has shown that not getting enough sleep results in an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and premature death, but now we’re finding that it may compromise relationships too.”

Lack of sleep can result in irritability and more hostile interactions with your partner. And, the Ohio study suggests, it can also increase the inflammatory response in the body, which puts you at higher risk of all sorts of illnesses and conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, joint issues like rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

“A person who is sleep-deprived may have low frustration tolerance, a short fuse, moodiness, grumpiness, raw nerves, and vulnerability to losing his temper,” explains Dr Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills-based family, relationship psychotherapist and author, commenting on the issue for Restonic US. “He or she also has a thinner barrier of self-protection from emotional injuries and hurts that might ordinarily be let go. One sleep-deprived partner in a couple is challenging, but two are a quick pathway to trouble.”

The Ohio State Institute of Behavioral Medicine research study found that well-rested couples still had disagreements, but the way they handled them was different, approaching conflicts in a more constructive, collaborative manner.

Compromised sleep can also affect a couple’s intimacy.

Targeting better sleep

Dr Alison Bentley, Restonic sleep expert, says that couples can work at improving their sleep by committing to better sleep hygiene, including setting up a bedtime routine and sticking to it, banishing the use of electronic devices that emit blue light (such as TVs and cell phones) from the bedroom entirely (or at least for an hour before bed) and ruling out any medical sleep problems, such as snoring caused by sleep apnoea.

“Agreeing to some basic sleep rules is also useful. If your partner likes to read into the wee hours of the morning, they might want to do that in a different area of the home to avoid disturbing you, and vice versa,” says Harley. “A bed that no longer supports your sleep needs can also affect the quality of your rest. A bed that gives you and your partner adequate support and comfort, along with pillows that support your necks properly, might be the best gift you can give each other this Valentine’s Day.”