Marital conflict increases with lack of sleep

You know how a lack of sleep makes you feel—cranky, grumpy, and tired.

Marital conflict increases with lack of sleepNow a study by researchers at The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research in Columbus, Ohio, finds that it puts people at risk for stress-related inflammation such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and other diseases.

How does that relate to married couples?

“Part of the issue in a marriage is that the sleep patterns often track together. If one person is restless or has chronic problems, that can impact the other’s sleep. If these problems persist over time, you can get this nasty reverberation within the couple,” says Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, senior author and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, in a June 26, 2017, news release.

The researchers recruited 43 couples. During two visits, they took blood and asked how many hours each person slept. Then the scientists asked the partners to try to resolve an issue that typically sparked marital conflict. Blood samples were taken again after the discussion. The findings were published in the May 2017 issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology.

“We found that people who slept less in the past few nights didn’t wake up with higher inflammation, but they had a greater inflammatory response to the conflict,” says Stephanie Wilson, lead researcher on the study. “So, that tells us less sleep increased vulnerability to a stressor.”

On a positive note, they found if one person was well-rested or discussed conflict in a healthy way, he/she de-escalated the disagreement even if one person was sleep-deprived.