If you find yourself in more petty arguments with your partner lately, it might be time to evaluate your sleep. Very few people get enough sleep at night and that number is only growing. Marriage experts say it is wreaking havoc on communication and intimacy. Unfortunately, many couples are not good bed partners, meaning they are noisy, restless, or engage in bad sleeping habits like reading on their phone in bed. In fact, more couples are reporting sleeping in separate beds or a "sleep divorce." While it seems drastic, sleep deprivation is not trivial; it can disrupt your emotional stability, logic, and memory.
Below are five ways sleep deprivation can ruin your relationship. If you or your partner are suffering from sleep deprivation, the best thing you can do for your marriage is help each other get a good night’s sleep, even if it includes a sleep divorce.
· You become more emotionally sensitive. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you secrete more cortisol, making you feel jumpy and excitable. Feeling on edge and nervous makes it difficult to be compassionate or loving toward your partner.
· You tend to be angrier or overreact. When you’re tired for an extended time and cortisol is making you feel edgy and nervous, you are more likely to overreact to little things that happen. For example, you may react aggressively and excessively when your partner is late, forgets to do a chore, or uses a specific tone.
· Your inner critic becomes louder. Sleep deprivation increases stress, and stress is an underlying contributor to critical self-talk. In research studies, negative emotions and critical self-talk were less frequent when subjects had slept 8 hours prior to testing.
· Your decision-making suffers. When you’re sleep deprived, you cannot think clearly and don’t have the patience to think concepts through entirely. You’re also more likely to compromise your values and take uncalculated risks, making affairs more likely. In a relationship when you’re trying to make decisions about finances or children, it’s important both partners are thinking clearly.
· You’re less appreciative of your partner. When you’re exhausted, all you can think about is getting sleep. Your senses become dull, self-centered, and joyless.
In marriage there are so many decisions and distractions. Having the ability to be patient and work together is essential. Before you begin jumping to conclusions or divorce, try keeping a sleep journal or track your sleep on your watch. If you and your partner are both exhausted, bickering, and overreacting maybe you don’t need therapy or a marriage retreat. Work together to create a room for sleeping only and support each other to get the sleep that makes you the best partner you can be.