How too little sleep sabotages happiness, health and romance

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Getting a good night’s sleep is important for overall health and well-being. But did you know it can also interfere with romance? Ingratitude toward others can also lessen happiness that is linked to poor health.

New study findings, presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists in New Orleans, give us some insight into how poor sleep can interfere with romantic relationships – leading to ungratefulness toward our partner.

Investigators for the study were trying to understand how giving and gratitude promote well-being by looking at a variety of social factors that can leave us feeling unhappy and underappreciated. They decided to look at what happens to romance when we don’t get enough sleep.

For the study a relationship psychologist asked 60 couples ranging in age18 to 56 to keep a diary of their sleep patterns. The couples were also asked to journal how sleep affected appreciation of their partners.

Amie Gordon, a UC Berkeley psychologist who led the study, which she conducted with psychologist Serena Chen, found poor sleep makes it difficult to be emotionally sensitive.

“You may have slept like a baby, but if your partner didn’t, you’ll probably both end up grouchy,” Gordon said in a press release.

She also explains how lack of sleep can make us more selfish. When we’re grouchy and tired we focus on our own needs. Some couples are too tired to just say ‘thanks’.

Gordon who focuses on the psychology of close relationships says people are busy and even pride themselves on needing little sleep.

Couples for the study were also videotaped while trying to solve problems together. Those who reported sleeping poorly the night before were less appreciative of their partners.

Some of the reasons your partner might have trouble sleeping is from snoring, sheet tugging or typing on a laptop, making good sleep a struggle.

Gratitude and happiness are important for health

In two other studies presented at the meeting, scientists discuss the importance of giving and feeling grateful to others for overall health and well-being. For instance, giving away money can make us feel wealthier. The researchers say there is a growing body of evidence linking happiness to a healthier and longer life.

The remedy to keeping romance alive, according to Gordon, is simple. If you want to keep your love life intact, remember to say thanks to your partner; let them know they are appreciated, even if you are feeling sleep deprived and a bit grouchy. If you want to stay healthy and live a longer life, give to others, spend time with friends and above all, be truly grateful.


Society for Personality and Social Psychologists

January 19, 2013

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