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'Til Sleep Do Us Part

Lack of sleep can spell trouble for couples

En español | If you're a Mrs. who's missing sleep, get some z's: It could improve your relationship with your husband, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. When wives had trouble sleeping, it meant trouble the next day — for both partners.

See also: 7 signs of sleep apnea.

photo collage illustrates how trouble sleeping may cause marital tension

Illustration by Stuart Bradford

Lack of sleep can cause marital tension.

In fact, when wives were tired, couples' interactions were far more negative compared with those of spouses who both got enough sleep. (Interestingly, when husbands slept poorly, couples reported little to no change in interactions.)

"Sleep affects all aspects of functioning, including the health of our marriages," says researcher Wendy Troxel, Ph.D. " These results may be particularly important for older adults, who have higher rates of sleep disturbances."

But why the focus on wives? Troxel theorizes women are generally more expressive than men and, thus, more likely to show irritation when tired. Women are also more likely to have insomnia. To ease tension, wives can spend time solo — husbands should be glad to stay away! — and wives should be honest about their fatigue. (Husbands may then find it easier to empathize.) And if either party has insomnia more than three times weekly, for one month or longer, Troxel advises contacting a health care provider.

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