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Bad Marriage? Expect a Bad Sleep, Too

A new study shows that a bad marriage can have a hugely negative impact on one’s sleep patterns.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, examined how relationship troubles affect the way married couples sleep. A total of forty-six couples participated in the study.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the study found that the couples who had more stable relationships slept better at night. Specifically, it revealed that a wife’s contentment allowed her husband to enjoy a deeper, more satisfying sleep.

The study also showed that couples sleeping in the same bed were awake or asleep at the same time about three-quarters of the time. The underlying suggestion is that an unhappy wife will toss and turn more, leaving her husband awake at night.

The study’s lead author, Heather Gunn (a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh), says the findings reveal that we need to think beyond the individual when examining sleep behavior. “Most of what is known about sleep comes from studying it at the individual level,” Gunn said. “However, for most adults, sleep is a shared behaviour between bed partners.”

A report based on Gunn’s study was recently published by the journal Sleep. In that report, Gunn notes that the “sleep of married couples is more in sync on a minute-by-minute basis than the sleep of random individuals,” and that “this suggests that our sleep patterns are regulated not only by when we sleep, but also by with whom we sleep.”


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