June 15, 2011

Marital Problems: Is Your Wife Sleeping?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that over 40 million Americans are chronically ill with various sleep disorders. A new study shows that among married couples, a wives inability to fall asleep at night could cause problems in her marriage.

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

"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," study leader Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University Of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pa., was quoted saying.

"Specifically, wives who took longer to fall asleep the night before reported poorer marital functioning the next day, and so did their husbands," Dr. Troxel said.

The study involved 32 healthy, married couples with an average age of 32 years married. Sleep latency, wakefulness after sleep onset, and total sleep time were measured by actigraphy, which is a method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles, for 10 nights. The quality of marital interactions were measured daily over the 10-day assessment using electronic diaries to evaluate positive marital interactions such as feeling supported or valued by their spouse, as well as negative marital interactions such as feeling criticized or ignored by their spouse.

The relationship between nightly sleep and next day's marital interactions was stronger than the association between daily marital interactions and subsequent sleep. Although, husbands' reports of higher levels of positive marital interactions predicted their own shorter sleep duration the next night.

The researchers say the outcomes show that sleep disorders such as insomnia can have a negative impact on marital relationships.

"These results highlight the importance of considering the interpersonal consequences of sleep and sleep loss," Dr. Troxel said.

SOURCE: SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, in Minneapolis, MN, June 14, 2011.