For any relationship to grow and stay healthy, you need to make good decisions, be in a good mood most of the time, control your irritability, solve problems, communicate well, deal with frustration, and show empathy. And all these things go wrong when you don’t get enough sleep.
Who do you blame when things aren’t going right because of lack of sleep? Most often, your sleeping partner. Chronic sleep loss or other sleep problems can make you feel many different emotions that can make you act in ways that can hurt your relationships.
In short, the quality of social relationships and support is linked to health outcomes and sleep quality. When we sleep better, we have more self-control, which means we’re less likely to get angry and snap at others, even if they’ve done something to make us mad.
Sleep certainly benefits our health by enabling our bodies to operate at their peak levels. Additionally, it’s essential to our productivity because it keeps us alert the next day. But do our relationships also benefit or suffer from obtaining enough sleep? Let’s find out.
Effects of Quality Sleep on Your Relationships
Interpersonal relationships are based on deep emotional ties and honest, open communication, whether we’re talking about marriage, live-in relationships (and trying your best to avoid those uncomfortable ‘are you ever getting married’ conversations with your mother), or everything in between. So how does sleep come into this picture?
- Lesser Prejudices: Does sleep impact our level of prejudice? This might seem far-fetched, but it makes sense when you consider the brain processes necessary for communicating with others who are different from ourselves and how those processes are impacted by sleep deprivation. Better sleep reduces our propensity to stereotype others, while poorer sleep increases it — especially when we already harbor strong, unfavorable implicit prejudices towards particular social relationships. Perhaps this explains why studies have found that night people adhere to stereotypes more during the day when they are rested, whereas the opposite is true for morning people.
- Higher Self Esteem: Poor sleep patterns may make it more difficult for you to gain your crush’s attention by reducing your perceived physical attractiveness. On the other hand, research indicates that when we sleep better, we are less likely to feel rejected. This implies that, as long as we get enough sleep, we might be less likely to perceive rejection when there is none if we worry that people won’t like us, a common issue to overcome in cross-group interactions.
- More Empathy: Emotional empathy is the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. A study found that the parts of our brain responsible for emotional empathy don’t work well when we don’t get enough sleep. People who said they slept better were much more empathetic toward people in trouble. Plus, their brains showed more activity linked to emotional empathy when they saw people in trouble. This finding helps explain why we can better understand other people’s feelings and read their emotions when we’ve had a good night’s sleep.
- Lesser Aggression: We are definitely more irritable when we don’t get enough sleep. But can it make us angrier or likelier to fight? A recent study suggests that it can. The study showed that people who didn’t get enough sleep were much more furious during the task than those who had slept normally. Obviously, it would hurt our relationships if we couldn’t control our anger. Women who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be mean to their partners. When we sleep better, we have more self-control, which means we’re less likely to snap at others, even if they’ve done something to make us mad.
- Higher Intensity: When we haven’t slept well, we feel bad emotions that start in the amygdala, the brain’s fast emotional response center. It goes into overdrive. This makes you react to things more strongly than if you had slept for eight hours. You’ll also be angrier and less able to deal with frustrating situations, which makes you more likely to explode.
- Marital Aggression: Have you ever struggled to restrain your anger when tired? This could cause a lot of relationship issues. A study of married couples validated the connections between poor sleep, lack of self-control, and violent conduct. Couples experience more violence in their marriages when poor sleep results in diminished self-control, which it frequently does.
- Avoid Conflicts: A lot of times, the lack of sleep fuels fights, not your partner. Couples fight a lot when they don’t get enough sleep. The research showed that participants who said they slept less were more likely to argue with their partners. They also had difficulty understanding how their partners felt and had a harder time-solving conflicts.
And when we don’t get enough sleep, our reactions to threats are stronger. Because our minds and emotions aren’t at their best, hurting our relationships.
People who don’t get enough sleep tend to have higher stress hormones. All of this extra stress and worry can hurt relationships, especially between couples, because stress is also known to make people less sexually driven.
Embrace Sleep and Your Relationships
If you are not getting enough sleep, don’t brush it off. There are real physical effects of not getting enough sleep, like a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Sleep also has a big impact on our mental and emotional health, and therefore on our relationships, in ways that might not be obvious.
You know what it’s like to have a bad night’s sleep and then argue with your partner about nothing in particular. Or you can’t just ignore what someone says at work. Or you think too much about a conversation you had with a friend and try to figure out what every word meant. When we don’t get enough sleep, our minds and emotions aren’t at their best, hurting our relationships with the people around us.
While sleep affects our relationships, our relationships can also affect how well we sleep. If we fight with people we love, are treated unfairly, or feel rejected, we’re likely to have a bad night. That means that social problems can cause bad sleep, bad sleep can cause more social problems, and the cycle goes on.
Another common reason for bad sleep, and conflicts among couples is snoring. Couples who have a problem with snoring often feel tired, frustrated, and angry with each other. It can make it hard to be close sexually and emotionally, and it can force a couple to sleep in different rooms. If you are one of those couples, you should think about investing in Smart Nora, a smart anti-snoring solution. The device will make sure you get quality sleep every night without any snoring troubles, and you might start noticing a difference in how well your relationships are doing.