Are you fighting too much with your partner? Research says couples who fight are at high health risksToo many arguments and lack of sleep together contribute to greater health risk
Lack of sleep makes you grumpy and irritated. It not only spoils your day but also relations with your loved ones. Especially if you’re married, your lack of sleep can affect your romance drastically. It can also put your health at risk. Researchers at the Ohio State University Institute for Behavioural Medicine concluded that sleep deprivation increases the risk of stress-related disorders which can in turn up the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis, etc.
"We know sleep problems are also linked with inflammation and many of the same chronic illnesses. So we were interested to see how sleep related to inflammation among married couples, and whether one partner's sleep affected the other's inflammation," said lead researcher Stephanie Wilson.
The research was carried out on 43 couples who completed two study visits. Each time, the couples provided their blood samples and told how many hours did they sleep the previous two nights. The researchers then asked the couple to talk about a topic that incite conflict in their marriage. Blood samples were taken after the argument.
"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. So that tells us less sleep increased vulnerability to a stressor," Wilson said.
If both the partners got less than 7 hours of sleep in the two previous nights, the couple was likely to argue. Every hour of sleep lost, the researchers saw that levels of the inflammatory markers rose by 6 per cent. Couples who deployed unhealthy tactics in their arguments had even greater inflammatory response, about 10 per cent increase with each hour of sleep lost.
"Any increase isn't good, but a protracted increase that isn't being addressed is where it can become a problem," Wilson said. "What's concerning is both a lack of sleep and marital conflict are common in daily life. About half of our study couples had slept less than the recommended seven hours in recent nights."
That's higher than the current national average. The CDC reports 35 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night.
"Part of the issue in a marriage is that 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," said senior author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser.
Researchers were encouraged to see that there was a protective effect if one of the partners was well-rested, or discussed conflict in a healthy way. They tended to neutralize the disagreement that might be stirred by the sleep-deprived partner.
"We would tell people that it's important to find good ways to process the relationship and resolve conflict and get some sleep," Kiecolt-Glaser said.
The study is published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.