If there was any doubt as to how much of an impact sleep has on your life, work and relationships, this study underlines the importance of a good night’s rest.
Conducted by the University of California, Amie Gordon and Serena Chen found that just one night’s poor sleep can damage your relationship.
In the research, reported Psyblog, 78 couples were tracked over a two-week period. Each day the couples were asked to make notes about their sleep quality and any arguments they’d had with their partners that day.
The results showed that even for those who were good sleepers, just a single night’s poor sleep showed an increase in arguments and conflict the next day. “For the first time, to our knowledge, we can see the process of how the nature, degree, and resolution of conflict are negatively impacted by poor sleep,” said Chen, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. The study was published online in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Although the findings did not include factors of anxiety, depression or any existing issues in the relationship, poor sleep makes people more irritable, less able to concentrate and fatigued.
Yinka Thomas who wrote Get A Good Night’s Sleep advises looking at your sleeping environment. “Keep your bedroom dark. This is because the all-important sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is extremely light sensitive and may not be produced optimally unless it’s completely dark.”
You may also want to be aware of how hot or cold the room is – something you may disagree on with your partner.
“A room that is too hot will prevent your core temperature from going down,” says Yinka, “which is essential for switching on the ‘sleep mechanism’. Get a room thermometer to ensure the right temperature range.”
You may also want to take a long hard look at your lifestyle. Jessica Alexander from The Sleep Council also advises: “To ensure you experience good sleep it’s essential to follow good lifestyle habits and to eliminate the factors that are causing you disturbed sleep. For example making sure that your bedroom is the right environment, that your bed is up to scratch, looking at the lighting in your home, and avoiding foods and drinks that can hinder sleep.”
Here are The Sleep Council’s top tips below:
- Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better.
- Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old.
- Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close too bedtime or it may keep you awake!
- Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee – especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
- Don’t over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.
- Don’t smoke. Yes, it’s bad for sleep, too: smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and often experience more sleep disruption.
- Try to relax before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, do some yoga – all help to relax both the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation tape, too.
- Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day.
- If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.