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How Sleep Deprivation Affects Relationships

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Sleep deprivation affects your relationshipsFamilies that commit to sleep training will often tell me that they now have more energy, are happier, and get along with their partner more. Family life seems to just flow easier. Before sleep coaching, sleep deprivation can take a toll on your attitude and relationships.

So, what is it about a lousy night’s sleep that makes your patience as fragile as glass?

Have you experienced the frustration of dealing with people after a poor night’s sleep? Cars on your commute are moving extra slowly, the stoplight takes longer to change and your co-workers are asking the same question that you solved for them yesterday.

Admittedly, these things are frustrating even on days when you did have a night of uninterrupted sleep, but the way we respond to these situations depends on the quality of our sleep.

Studies show that people that are deprived of sleep have:

  1. A greater tendency to blame others
  2. A reduced willingness to accept blame in order to alleviate a conflict
  3. Increased aggression
  4. Ineffective social interactions

The benefits of a full night’s sleep are staggering. You can make decisions and interact with others in thoughtful and selfless ways instead of self-seeking and self-preserving ways.

Sleep Deprivation and Interacting with your Family

When we are running on low fumes, we can usually put on a brave face and stagger through the day. And then we come home and the filter is lowered.

So, now let’s imagine that you and your partner are the proud parents of a new baby. You have this wonderful ball of joy. It is thrilling. It is life-changing and comes with a lot of responsibility.

As parents, you are making millions of decisions a day. How and when do you put your new baby down for a nap? Who gets up when she starts crying? Do you have a set bedtime? Do you breastfeed exclusively? When do you go back to work?

All of these decisions need to be communicated and agreed on between you and your partner. It isn’t one person’s job to figure this all out. And every one of these decisions is an opportunity for disagreement. You may have already figured out some of these things, but more and more questions will arise.

Now add sleep deprivation into the mix!

You’re faced with some of the most important decisions of your lives and at the same time, you’re more likely to blame each other and be unable to respond in a rational, civilized manner.

Other Effects of Sleep Deprivation

    1. Couples are less likely to show gratitude.

We become more self-centered and prioritize our own needs. This leads to our partner feeling unappreciated. Gratitude tells your partner that they are special and loved.

    1. Decrease in Libido

Obtaining sufficient sleep promotes a healthy desire. A lot of new parents are faced with lower sex drives because they are just too tired. And couples wanting to be intimate are hindered because one of them is sleeping on the couch or sleeping next to the baby.

The Good News

You will make it through this period. Sleep deprivation is not the end of your relationship. The early months of having a new baby is often a time to lean on each other and you will learn so much about each other. It can be the most amazing moment when you see your partner taking care of your new little one.

Your little one is a bundle of joy. Cherish this time. I know this is cliché, but they only stay little for such a short time.

happy dad with babyHowever, you won’t be able to cherish this time if you’re constantly frustrated or fighting with your partner because you are sleep deprived.

So, make your little one’s sleep a priority. It is not only for their well-being but your relationship’s as well. Try taking a week to commit to getting your little one to sleep through the night. You will be amazed!

If you need help figuring out how to get your little one to sleep through the night, schedule a chat. One of our sleep coaches would love to help you out.


Extra Resources:

Kahn-Greene, E. T., Lipizzi, E. L., Conrad, A. K., Kamimori, G. H., & Killgore, W. (2006). Sleep deprivation adversely affects interpersonal responses to frustration. Personality and Individual Differences, 41(8), 1433-1443.

Gordon, A. M., & Chen, S. (2014). The Role of Sleep in Interpersonal Conflict: Do Sleepless Nights Mean Worse Fights? Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(2), 168–175.

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