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Good Sleep Can Improve Marriage

June 12, 2009

According to the results of the two latest studies, being stably married may improve your sleep, and a good night's sleep may, in turn, improve your marriage.

The research from an 8-year study found that women who are married or who have a good and stable relationship with their partner, appear to sleep better, compared to their counterparts who have never got married or broke up with a partner. The study also demonstrated that marital happiness reduces the risk associated with sleep problems, whereas strained marriage heightens the risk.

In spite of the fact that married women are known to sleep producing more sounds than unmarried women, the investigators, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, did discover a "newlywed" effect. Ladies who did not have a partner in the beginning of the study but gained one in the process, were found to have more restless sleep, when compared to women who were already married. The researchers assumed that newly married women did not have enough time to get adjusted to sleeping with their partner than those who had been married for a longer period of time.

For the study purposes, the experts analyzed 360 African-American, Caucasian and Chinese-American females with an average age of 51 years, who had participated in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. All the participants were asked about their current relationship status. Researchers visited them at home six to eight years after the start of the study, for three successive nights and asked all women to wear wrist activity monitors, which measured their sleep activities for about thirty days. The investigators examined the association between women's relationship histories and their sleep by analyzing the sleep differences between the ladies who were in a stable marriage, those in an unstable marriage and those who had gained or lost a partner.

Both methods revealed that married women had the best sleep patterns - the data showed the same results even after taking into consideration other factors that would have an impact on the quality of sleep such as age, ethnicity, household income and symptoms of depression.

In addition to the first research, the experts from the University of Arizona also carried out another small experiment that involved 29 heterosexual couples. This second study found a strong association between the quality of a couple's relationship on a regular basis and the quality of their sleep. In this study, all couples who slept in the same bed and did not have any kids, were asked to fill out sleep and relationship questionnaires for a period of one week. The results demonstrated that when men get better sleep at night, they are more likely to feel positive about their relationship the following day. And when it came to women, problems in the relationship were strongly associated with lack of sleep for both themselves and their second halves.

The data from both studies shows that there is a strong association between sleep and happiness in a relationship. The conclusion for couples, especially for those who are experiencing lots of problems in their marriage, is that paying attention to sleep patterns may help solve other issues in the relationship. Dr. Brant Hasler, a clinical psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, said. The expert recommended that couples should work to resolve problems long before bedtime and avoid discussing difficult topics when one or both have not slept well.

The study findings were presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Tags: Marriage