Good News for Couples Who Spend Their Friday Nights at Home
Next time you're fielding a string of "Where are you???" texts from friends guilting you for spending another Friday night cozied up to your S.O., rocking flannels and catching up on season three of House of Cards — know that you have a valid excuse.
While it might sound like a cop-out to your social circle, catching up on rest and getting a full eight hours of sleep might be one of the best things you can do for your relationship.
Sleepless nights, fight-filled days? When we lose sleep, even just a few hours, our moods and behaviors can change in a huge way. In 2013, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley asked 78 people to keep a sleep diary for 14 days, noting days when they had a fight with their partner and their overall relationship satisfaction. The finding: Couples were most likely to have fights on days after they had a rough night's sleep.
Sleep also can temporarily affect the brain, which affects our interactions. The same study found that sleeplessness reduces our "empathetic accuracy," meaning we have a hard time reading other people's emotions, and they have a hard time reading ours. In another study, the team found that people running on less sleep acted more selfishly and were less likely to see things from their partner's perspective.
"With couples being more emotionally fragile after a poor night's sleep, they're less able to communicate or resolve conflict as effectively," Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Mic.
Sleepy selves aren't our best selves: A 2011 study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found that over-exhaustion can lead to poor self-control and, interestingly, unethical behavior. Sleepy people also have less moral awareness, as a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found when they asked participants to identify the moral of a short story.
"When you're tired, the brain's emotional center, the amygdala, is much more reactive and less connected with the judgment area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex," Charles Czeisler, a Harvard Medical School professor, told the Wall Street Journal. "You have the emotional brain mouthing off and it's not being held in check by the judgment area. This is not a good time to deal with something in the relationship."
Sleep deprivation also impacts certain positive traits, ones our significant others fell in love with in the first place. Our memories are worse off, we're less creative, our wit is impaired and our short attention spans get the best of us, according to research.
Not to mention losing sleep can kill your sex drive. Sleep deprivation is linked to low libido due to a lack of energy. In a 2011 National Sleep Foundation survey, 61% of Americans who claimed to be getting insufficient sleep said it affected their sex lives, a potentially major relationship problem. On the flip side, a new study this week showed that more sleep led to greater sex drive and higher arousal for women.
Time to snuggle up: On the other hand, getting on the same sleep schedule can be great for the relationship, which can in turn lead to better sleep the next night.
Only 30% of us get a full six to eight hours of sleep a night. But if you're in the minority of well-rested homebodies, you can pat yourself on the back for all those Netflix and wine-filled weekends. Stay in and rest up together on Friday night, and you'll skip that ridiculous fight over the color of a dress or which Thai place to order Seamless from.