Effects of Poor Sleep: Increased Bickering with Your Partner


Home / Effects of Poor Sleep: Increased Bickering with Your Partner
There's Nothing Like a Good Night's Sleep. Image by Joi.

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep – sleeplessness can affect your relationships. Image by Joi.

Sleep and Relationship Satisfaction: A Two-Way Street

Interestingly, just as poor sleep causes relationship strife, strife in relationships seems to cause poor sleep.

Brant P.Hasler and Wendy M. Troxel, researchers at  the University of Pittsburgh’s Sleep Medicine Institute, published a 2010 article about the relationship between sleep and couples’ relationships. For their study, they measured sleep quality in 29 heterosexual co-sleeping couples for 7 days.

The researchers then analyzed they degree to which sleep efficiency predicted the next day’s interactions, and vice versa.

Drs. Hasler and Troxel found that not only does poor sleep cause negative interactions, but women showed a strong correlation between daytime interactions and nighttime sleep. In other words, when they reported many positive interactions during the day, they slept well that night. When they reported an overall feeling of negative daytime interactions, they slept poorly that night. Women seem particularly sensitive to the highs and lows of relationships, and their quality of sleep depends on the quality of their relationships.

Relationships, Sleeping Habits, and Irritability

If you find your romantic relationships marred by hostility, irritability and poor problem solving, try improving the quality of your sleep. Begin by giving yourself a ‘sleep window’ of at least seven hours a night, and limit computer and television use in the hours leading up to bedtime. Getting adequate sleep will make you happier, healthier, and more likely to maintain a strong relationship.


Gordon, A. and Chen, S. The Role of Sleep in Interpersonal Conflict: Do Sleepless Nights Mean Worse Fights? (2013). Social Psychological and Personality Science. Accessed on July 18, 2013.

Robotham, D. Sleep Matters. (2011). Mental Health Foundation. Accessed on July 18, 2013.

Hasler, B. and Troxel, W. Couples’ Nighttime Sleep Efficiency and Concordance: Evidence for Bidirectional Associations with Daytime Relationship Functioning. (2010). Psychosomatic Medicine. Accessed on July 18, 2013.

Woodin, E.M. A two-dimensional approach to relationship conflict: meta-analytic findings(2011). Journal of Family Psychology. Accessed on July 18, 2013.

Leave a Comment