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Poor sleep can lead to feeling unappreciated in your relationship, says study

Nadine Kalinauskas
Shine On
January 22, 2013

It may come as no surprise to many of us that poor sleep patterns can negatively affect our relationship, but now we have a study to prove it.

It turns out that sleep isn't just important for our physical health, because new research claims that a lack of sleep can make us more selfish, prioritize our own needs above our partners', and less likely to show appreciation for our significant others.

According to a press release, "The results shed new light on the emotional interdependence of sleep partners, offering compelling evidence that a bad night's sleep leaves people less attuned to their partner's moods and sensitivities. For many couples, nighttime can turn into a battleground due to loud snoring, sheet-tugging or one partner tapping on a laptop while the other tosses and turns."

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Yes, your sleep-deprivation-induced grouchiness is hurting your significant other.

"You may have slept like a baby, but if your partner didn't, you'll probably both end up grouchy," says Amie Gordon, a UC Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study.

Gordon presented the findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists in New Orleans on Saturday, January 19.

Gordon conducted three studies, using more than 60 couples ranging in age from 18 to 56, to reach her findings.

"In the first study, 56 undergraduates were asked to assess their previous night's sleep; some of them were further asked to write up to five things for which they were grateful and then report how thankful or grateful they felt at that moment. (It's known that people who experience gratitude are happier, healthier and better connected to those around them.) People who had slept well reported feeling more grateful after making their lists than people who had slept poorly," the LA Times reports.

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In Gordon's second study, she asked 69 undergraduates in relationships to keep a daily record of their sleep patterns and feelings toward their partner. She found that poor sleep was associated with increased selfishness and decreased gratitude.

In the third test, heterosexual couples were videotaped while performing a problem-solving task. Those functioning on little sleep exhibited less appreciation for their partner.

Previous studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to weight gain and increases stroke risk. So for the sake of your health — and your loved ones — get to bed!

How do you cope with sleep deprivation? Here are seven tips for getting through the day after a rough night.

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