Three studies that will be presented later this morning as posters examine the association between sleep and a couple’s relationship.
One study (#1248) reports that being stably married or gaining a partner is associated with better subjective sleep quality and objective sleep efficiency than being unmarried or losing a partner. The study’s lead author presented similar findings last year at SLEEP 2008, reporting that marital happiness may lower the risk of sleep problems in Caucasian women, while marital strife may heighten the risk. Read a press release about last year’s study. Earlier in 2009 in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine, the same team published their finding that happily married women reported fewer sleep disturbances, with the association evident among Caucasian women and to a lesser extent among African-American women.
Another study (#1295) involving 159,856 participants found that sleep disturbance is associated with being unmarried. The rates of self-reported sleep disturbance classified by marital status were 16.3 percent for married, 21.2 percent for divorced, 21.3 percent for never married, 22.8 percent for unmarried couple, 25.4 percent for widowed and 30.7 percent for separated. “Sleep disturbance” was defined as seven or more days of having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much over the last two weeks. Less education, lower income and being unemployed also were associated with sleep disturbance.
A third study (#1285) reports that bidirectional associations appear to exist between sleep quality and interpersonal interactions of co-sleeping couples. Sleep problems at night may have a negative impact on relationship satisfaction the following day, while daytime interactions may influence the quality of sleep that night.
You can download the SLEEP 2009 abstract supplement as an 11 MB file in PDF format.