We are aware of the effects sleep has on our mood, cognition, and performance, but we may not realize that our relationships also depend on it. Relationships depend on decision making, shared responsibility, even humor and attractiveness. Sleep deprivation affects all of those aspects ultimately leading to a less than ideal partnership.
Couples trials have provided us with more insight in regards to the effects a lack of sleep has on a relationship. Monogamous couples who report a healthy and stable relationship participated in a sleep deprivation trial where after a night of sleep, they got to spend an entire day together without any of their normal responsibilities. The kicker – one partner was able to get a regular night of sleep while the other was deprived of two hours.
At the end of the day, couples were asked to rate their partner on various aspects, such as communication, emotions, and connection. How do you think each partner fared? Surprisingly, both partners were rated as performing below average, even the partner who received an adequate amount of sleep.
How can this be? Ultimately, the foundation of a relationship rests on communication. When either side’s ability to communicate effectively is impaired, it has an undesired effect on all parties in the relationship. Not only does sleep deprivation increase your cortisol stress hormone, it can decrease your perceived attractiveness and significantly impact your chances of intimacy.
Relationships are multifaceted and require a lot of work by all parties. It seems as though the key to a healthy happy relationship is to commit to getting a good night sleep.