Wives’ Sleep Issues Can Cause Marital Discord

Although marriages where the wife experiences sleep problems are affected by the nocturnal strife, those where the husband is the one tossing and turning generally don’t suffer the same stress, a new study presented at a meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) illustrates.

In a press release, the organization described the findings:

Results show that, among wives, taking longer to fall asleep at night predicted their reports of more negative and less positive marital interactions the next day, and it also predicted their husband’s reports of less positive marital interaction ratings the following day. In contrast, husbands’ sleep did not affect their own or their wife’s report of next day’s marital interactions.

The study found that marital interactions were more likely to be affected by the previous nights sleep than a subsequent night’s sleep was to be affected by the interactions. But the males in the study’s “reports of higher levels of positive marital interactions predicted their own shorter sleep duration the next night.”

Lead researcher Wendy Troxel explains:

“We found that wives’ sleep problems affect her own and her spouse’s marital functioning the next day, and these effects were independent of depressive symptoms,” said principal investigator Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pa. “Specifically, wives who took longer to fall asleep the night before reported poorer marital functioning the next day, and so did their husbands.”

The study tracked 32 married couples described as “healthy,” with an average age of 32, and participants did not have any “clinically relevant” sleep, psychiatric or medical disorders. The couples were studied for sleep latency, episodes of waking after sleep onset and total sleep time for 10 nights. Electronic diaries were utilized during the study to measure the quality of marital interactions and measured against the sleep data. The study concluded that insomnia could negatively impact a marriage.