The Daily Need

Do not operate this marriage while drowsy

When married women have trouble falling asleep at night, it makes for a tough next day on the homestead, according to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Whether because of insomnia or other delays getting to dreamland, neither the husband nor the wife are as happy the next day if she sleeps poorly.

Sleep studies usually look at individual sleep patterns, but this one looked at the interaction of couples from both sides. Some of the results were surprising: a hard day didn’t affect that night’s sleep as much as a bad night’s sleep affected what happened the next day. The quality of the wife’s sleep had more effect on the marriage than the husband’s.

“These results highlight the importance of considering the interpersonal consequences of sleep and sleep loss,” said Wendy Troxel, Ph.D., a principal investigator of the study and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Researchers used a wristwatch-like device called an actigraph to see how long it took for each person to fall asleep, how restful their sleep was and how long. The 32 married couples also kept e-diaries on how they felt about marital communications for 10 days. There were four positive ratings, like feeling supported or valued, and four negative ones, like feeling criticized or ignored.

Although each spouse vented on separate computers, their feelings were similar. The most negative ratings from both husbands and wives came after nights when wives had trouble falling asleep.

What the study didn’t determine was why the women had trouble falling asleep. Too much on their minds? Kids who kept calling? That earth-shaking snore coming from the other side of the bed? Or maybe, just plain insomnia.

Other studies by the same group suggest that a stable sleep partner and a happy marriage also predicted better sleep. So it’s hard to say which came first: the happy marriage or the good sleep. But, for marriages, a woman’s sleep probably counts for more than just beauty.

 
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Comments

  • R. Seidel

    Wow! Big Surprise! I could have told you that 20 years ago!…
    -R. Seidel, Austin, TX

  • Happycamper

    Truth is my husband and I enjoy a healthy relationahsip, sexual and otherwise…but then retreat to separate rooms when it’s time to sleep…in order to survive the next day! 

  • Groovyroovy55

    Good to have scientific support for what I’ve observed over 30 years of marriage….Ruby

  • Salina

    Everyone knows, “If Mama ain’t happy, No one’s happy!” ;)

  • Kayle

    Yeah. I keep telling people it’s ludicrous to aspire to live te way peope who couldn’t afford separate rooms did in ages past!

  • Lauren

    The latent misogyny in this piece is pathetic
    >> finished well by the final sentence that “But, for marriages, a
    woman’s sleep probably counts for more than just beauty.” >>
    Firstly the piece admits that it doesn’t know why the woman isn’t getting
    enough sleep… my initial impression was gender roles – how women are
    still expected to do more than 1/2 the work for their children, partner
    and the home. Beyond this… the tiff at the end — cites exactly one of
    the gender stereotype problems >> that a female person’s
    beauty/ugliness scale has an effect on the marriage – and that OH –
    sleep MAY be more important!? ….. I never expected this from PBS.

  • Jjunque

    If you male and are a restless legger, midnight muncher or snorer extrodinaire, check your proposed bride out and see if  she sleeps like stone before you marry her !

  • Jjunque

    If you male and are a restless legger, midnight muncher or snorer extrodinaire, check your proposed bride out and see if  she sleeps like stone before you marry her !

  • Anonymous

    Too bad this piece was written by a woman?  Maybe she’s misogynistic also?

  • Somersetoneil13

    Seriously? That’s what you got out of this?

  • charlie

    Get over it, it’s a fluff piece. And you’re reading into it far more than necessary. The last line is a joke, poking fun at the misogyny that you are “exposing.”

  • Isaacsmama

    Seperate bedrooms for 10 or 18 years – the best sleep for both of us is in our own rooms.

  • @thevinhamilton

    I’d like to know how old the couples are…. 34 year old women are overwhelming cranky if they miss so much as a nano-second of sleep. Trust me, my special lady proves it! Although to be fair, sometimes my relatively knuckleheadish hours lend to her lack her of sleep. In turn causing guilt which is unhelpful in establishing a fun and positive morning. If the couples were in an age range between 80-90 however, that circumstance might nullify my testimonial claim.     

  • Jvquillen

    I think was supposed to be taken a little less seriously than you took it, maybe you should lighten up just a tad, or try to get a little more sleep.

  • Mhlouise8

    I have extream back/pelvic pain and have the hardest time getting to sleep, and my husband will always come home grouchy the next day from work when I had a hard time the night before.

  • kc

    I think this study is not holding the men accountable for their own moods.  Why is it the woman’s fault if the marriage is unhappy? 

  • kc

    I think this study is not holding the men accountable for their own moods.  Why is it the woman’s fault if the marriage is unhappy? 

  • Jz10bf

    That was My first thought, too!

  • We5zeels

    I found it interesting that a lot of people were posting responses to this in the wee small hours of the morning.

  • Cujda

    Prime reason women shoudnt be us president.

  • J.D. Hall

    I agree with Lauren.  The comment about “beauty sleep” is sexist.  And the question is not whether or not she needs to “lighten up.”  The question is whether such a comment would have been made about a man.  I believe it would not have been.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663770943 Russell Hires

    They’re not saying anyone should or should not be accountable, but that women are more likely to “act out” in one way or another when they are sleep deprived, than men are.

  • R. K.

    No, they’re saying that women have to deal with more during the day, and are therefore more stressed by losing sleep.

    No wait, they’re not even speculating as to why, at least not in this article. Why assume that women “act out” more when they’re sleep deprived? That’s just ridiculous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708136723 Anonymous

    It should take into account the amount of times the woman wakes up from the snoring and has to punch the man to get him to STFU.

  • Confucious

    Hmmmmm. Apparently, either Bianca Seidman hates herself, or Lauren is having trouble dealing with reality. Seems to be the latter in this case.  Still… to be fair… reality can be ugly when it comes to the true reasons why people are attracted to each other and stay together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1404011280 Dollie Springer Forney

    or people who dont use punctuation marks
     

  • kc

    That’s because most men aren’t sleep deprived because it’s usually the woman whose work is never done.  My husband comes home from work and relaxes all evening, then goes to bed early and gets 9-10 hours sleep.  In the meantime, I’m up til all hours handling issues that I didn’t have time to deal with during the day regarding our special needs daughter.  And what do you mean by “acting out?”  Acting out can also be withdrawing and ignoring important issues by watching TV, letting the partner handle discipline and homework.  I’m sorry, but this comment was so sexist I couldn’t let it go.  

  • Tgab11

    Sounds like your husband isn’t pulling his weight, not because he is a man, but because your marriage allows it. I don’t see what that issue has to do with this article. What I read is: women have a tougher time dealing with sleep deprivation than men (based on studies). What I did not read: women suck and are the lesser of the 2 sexes because they have hard time dealing with sleep deprivation.

  • Xxxsmoovexxx

    “Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at
    night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin,
    enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour — making
    it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD,
    Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  “This study
    reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal
    hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the
    bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who
    reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.”

  • Lauren

    Hah! Why is it all of a sudden question of whether a woman hates herself or whether I’m can deal with what you call “reality” or not? Don’t you think that’s a strange diptic?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=45601005 Paul McDaniels

    I personally dont believe it is sexist. Because one non-discriminatory term such as ‘beauty sleep’ was used in reference to a woman and not about a man does not mean it is sexist—that is being a bit too sensitive… Especially considering the article was written by someone named Bianca.

  • Eetrnloptmst

    Or Capital letters when needed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1104232540 Joyce Anderson Sawford

    Queen-size, King-size or California king-size beds help, too, to give that extra space needed when sleeping.

  • Anonymous

    We shared a bedroom just fine for 25 years while his snoring — and shouting in his sleep — disturbed me on a nightly basis; I learned how to go right back to sleep.

    Recently a chronic and worsening sinus condition caused me to snore as well. Every time I fell asleep he would wake me up to tell me to be quiet. Now I sleep in the other room.

  • Jewelzie

    Maybe that’s because women have culturally been “allowed” to express their feelings while men haven’t.  Things are changing though.  It’s true that if I don’t get sleep, the rest of the house feels it the next day. 

  • kc

    In the same way, if my husband has a bad day at work, the rest of the house feels it immediately.  It goes both ways — if someone has stress (work-related, health-related, or whatever,) the rest of the family feels it.  In general, most women like to talk it out, while men have a tendency to internalize it.  There are those that don’t fit these gender roles as well.  I just think that this article places too much emphasis on the woman, but it would apply to anyone under stress.
     

  • Chris Turner

    I’m pretty sure only one person can be the U.S. President at a time.

  • http://blog.pozlife.com JK

    I’m not fit for human contact when I don’t get my sleep. You know why? Because my husband tries to be a ninja when he crawls into bed or tries to “adjust” (take) the comforters long after I go to sleep.  

    We had a much better time in separate bedrooms simply because he could go to sleep whenever he wanted without waking me up.

    We live in the city now so there is a high price for that privilege. Everyday it looks like it could be worth every penny!

  • Mammcj_85

    I didn’t notice that this was true, but I haven’t had good sleep lately and the house has fallen apart.  my no sleep has come from 1) husband snoring, 2) kids wandering the house in the middle of the night, 3) Not getting all the house chores done…stress, 4) Not a good comfy bed or pillow, 5) wanting my “relax” time on facebook before bed, and all this starts around 11 pm when we are finally ready for bed due to me working till 10pm.  I totally agree with this article, and I am not blaming my husband for my sleep problems… I just notice that I don’t sleep well and it puts me in a cranky mood. The kids sense that I am cranky and so does hubby, but what can they do to help me?  Let me sleep all day just to make the next day worse?  Or sleep all day so I can stay up all night lol?  It’s something that we have to understand and fix ourselves as women…Make sure that we get on a good sleeping habit and don’t let anyone stray us from that because we have seen what becomes of it.

  • ohjodi

    My bf and I each have our own bed, and we’re in the process of moving so we can each have our own room.  Between his snoring, my thrashing, and working different shifts, we realized very early on that we really shouldn’t sleep together if we want to enjoy our days together.

  • Lucy

    I used to have trouble sleeping..until I decided to stop drinking caffeine..I also eat healthy foods. Since the change in my lifestyle I am now able to sleep wonderfully.

  • Mamma Mia

    MY husband works realy hard (physically – he is a concrete contractor). Once he gets home his day is done.  He has dinner cooking on the stove and can shower and watch tv and take a nap before dinner.  I get up the same time as he and I am never done.  Helping with the business, dealing with the kids, shopping for food, cooking, cleaning, homework, kids’ bath, paperwork for the business, laundry, cleaning.  I am never done.  No one cooks and serves me dinner.  I am tired but cannot sleep thru the night.

  • Mamma Mia

    MY husband works realy hard (physically – he is a concrete contractor). Once he gets home his day is done.  He has dinner cooking on the stove and can shower and watch tv and take a nap before dinner.  I get up the same time as he and I am never done.  Helping with the business, dealing with the kids, shopping for food, cooking, cleaning, homework, kids’ bath, paperwork for the business, laundry, cleaning.  I am never done.  No one cooks and serves me dinner.  I am tired but cannot sleep thru the night.

  • claire voyant

    so many people sleeping in separate beds… marriage is a farce.

  • claire voyant

    so many people sleeping in separate beds… marriage is a farce.

  • Tallwestendguy

    JD – Did you get YOUR sleep last night?

  • Anonymous

    What husband doesn’t know this already. And, really, a stable sleep partner just pisses her off when she’s staring at the ceiling. she don’t sleep, you don’t sleep.