Wives’ Insomnia Affects Marriage More than Husbands’

Wives who have trouble sleeping report more marital problems the following day. Interestingly, insomnia in men doesn’t appear to affect the couple’s relationship, reports a new study presented at the SLEEP 2011 conference in Minnesota. The report is getting lots of buzz in places like WebMD and Today.com (see links for their full stories).  Following are some nuggets of the conclusions:

  • Wives who had trouble falling asleep were more likely to report negative interactions with their husbands the following day.
  • Husbands also rated the couple’s interactions less positively the day after their wife’s insomnia.
  • Interestingly, when husbands got less sleep, they reported more positive marital interactions the following day. That’s at least in part because they reported higher marital functioning when they had more frequent sexual activity.

So, wives reported the interactions more positively when they got more sleep, while husbands reported the interactions more positively when they had more sexual activity.

Experts surmise that women tend to be more communicative when they are under stress, and lack of sleep created stress that negatively affected the couples’ interactions.  Men, on the other hand, tend to repress or withhold negative emotions, so when they were more tired, it may not have appeared to impact the relationship as dramatically. In addition, they suggest women may be more prone to sleep disturbances, or unable to calm their thoughts down sufficiently to sleep.

Since the study was done on 35 healthy couples, it’s probable that the affect on couples having difficulties would be even more apparent.

I wouldn’t suggest this means husbands can get less sleep than wives. When my husband is tired from a difficult work schedule, we can all sense it. I also understand that it’s very poor for our health to have fewer hours of sleep than our bodies need.  I remember the days when we had babies or toddlers and one or both of us was chronically exhausted. That’s a rough time on a marriage, as many of you can attest. Even if you have to ask a friend or a relative to help out while you take a nap, please do.

Both partners, but especially wives, need to be sure they get adequate sleep to not only function well physically but also emotionally. If you have sleep difficulties, discuss it with your doctor. You might not be saving your health; you might also be saving your marriage.

I wasn’t as fast as Paul Byerly on writing about this topic. As I was catching up on blogs, I found his post to husbands: Her Sleep is Important to Your Marriage.

Photo by Leticia Wilson courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

7 responses to “Wives’ Insomnia Affects Marriage More than Husbands’

  1. Interesting results, although I personally think it’s hard to gauge from just 35 couples. 100 would have been more conclusive. I think lack of sleep affects everybody(regardless of gender) in different ways. This part certainly doesn’t surprise me though – “while husbands reported the interactions more positively when they had more sexual activity.”

  2. I agree that it’s a small sample. Interesting to see if it would apply to a larger group. I do think both spouses are negatively affected by lack of sleep, at least that is the case in my marriage. Thanks!

  3. Sleep is crucial for everyone. The list of problems lack of sleep can cause is both very long and surprising.
    Thanks for a great post on an important subject.

  4. Sexy Christian Wife

    I sooooo have a bad day when I don’t get much sleep, I’m much more likely to overreact to little things.

  5. I’m right there with you!

  6. how beautiful.Sleep is crucial for everyone.

  7. This is a very good article, thanked the author to provide it for us!

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