The study, presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), observed that wives who took more time to fall asleep at night had a negative marital interaction the following day, and it also found a less positive interaction from the husband the next day.
The report however, suggested that husband’s sleep problem had no effect on their own or their wife’s marital interactions the next day.
The lead researcher Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, said, "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."
"Specifically, wives who took longer to fall asleep the night before reported poorer marital functioning the next day, and so did their husbands."
Sleep time measure of husband and wife
Couples involved in the study were healthy, married, and had an average age of 32 years. The subjects had no clinically relevant sleep, psychiatric, or other medical disorders.
Researchers measured the sleep onset latency (SOL), the time one takes to fall asleep from full wakefulness, and also the total sleep time for 10 nights with the help of an actigraph that measures the rest and activity cycles.
Marital interaction quality were evaluated with electronic diaries which recorded positive interactions like feeling supported or valued by spouse, and negative interactions like being criticized or ignored by spouse.
The researchers observed that when the wife had sleep troubles, both the couples reported more negative than positive interactions.
The study found no association between husband’s sleep problems with marital interactions, but noted that after a day’s positive interaction men slept for a lesser time than usual.
Study may be a wake-up call, says researcher
Troxel said, "Maybe this [study] will be a wake-up call."
"These results highlight the importance of considering the interpersonal consequences of sleep and sleep loss," she said.
"This might be a really important indicator to get treatment for sleep disorders, not only because they can affect relationships, but also because spouses can be important reminders and instigators to get treatment."