Sleep is fundamental for processing emotions and memories, as well as helping you to stay alert and calm throughout the day. Not getting enough rest, therefore, can seriously impact your mental health and ability to get things done, as well as causing significant mood swings and grouchiness. In this way, it is fairly easy to see how essential sleep is to maintain a healthy relationship with a significant other.
We’ve put together a brief guide to how your sleep patterns could be affecting your relationship, particularly if you suffer from sleep deprivation.
Don’t underestimate the extent to which sleep can affect your emotions
If you are overworked and not getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, your amygdala – the area of the brain that ties emotions to memories – does not function properly. This could render you less able to empathize with other people or could cause you to overreact to relatively minor events throughout the day. Naturally, this increases the likelihood that you will argue with your partner or feel upset when they do something you perceive to be wrong. Heightened conflict is never particularly helpful for maintaining a satisfying relationship, and could increase the chances of a break-up.
If you are worried about the extent to which sleep deprivation is affecting your mood and your relationship, start by letting your partner know about your concerns. This may reassure them that any moodiness on your part is not necessarily their fault and could help them to empathize with your situation a little more. Next, you should try to get to the heart of your sleep deprivation issues. Whether it is overwork, stress, or simply lifestyle-related issues such as poor diet, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your quality of sleep by addressing underlying problems.
Finally, try to save any serious conversations for a time when you are both feeling well-rested and calm. This will improve your capacity to listen, empathize and make good decisions, all excellent qualities for sustaining a healthy relationship.
What to do if you and your partner are on different sleep schedules
Everyone has their own internal body clock which tells them roughly when to go to bed and when to get up. Whilst some of us are early risers and jump out of bed easily in the morning, others are night owls who would rather while away the hours in the evening than settle down for an early night. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to retune your body clock, and many couples find that their sleep patterns are very different.
If your sleep pattern diverges significantly from your partner’s, you may find that both of you end up getting less sleep. If you both go to bed when the early riser feels sleepy, the night owl may end up tossing and turning in bed for hours. The best solution is probably to go to bed at your individual preferred times, taking care not to wake up your significant other in the process. Alternatively, you may want to try meeting somewhere in the middle, adjusting your sleep schedules slightly so you can both enjoy each other’s company when bedtime draws near.
If you’re suffering from sleep issues, we’re here to help. Contact us at your earliest convenience to find out more.
A MESSAGE FROM DR. AMY HARTSFIELD:
At TMJ & Sleep Solutions of Alabama, our mission is to provide personalized care to restore quality of life, one patient at a time. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment!