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Is Poor Sleep Affecting Your Relationship?


Poor sleep & your mood
Whether you have suffered from insomnia for years, or have had the occasional sleepless night, you have probably noticed how poor sleep affects your mood. Rather unsurprisingly, research has shown that insomnia sufferers are three times more likely to experience low moods.

The main reason why the less able we are to sleep, the moodier we become is that being unable to sleep makes us anxious. The primitive part of our brain understands this anxiety to be the result of some impending threat, prompting us to enter into threat-detection mode. Naturally, this massively affects the way in which we view the world around us. In this state, our whole outlook becomes negatively charged and inwardly focused, and it becomes harder to trust the people around us. Furthermore, our brain’s ability to recall pleasant memories decreases, enabling negative ones to take over.

It’s easy to see how this altered perception of reality can make it difficult to form new relationships but also to maintain existing ones. In fact, if you suffer from insomnia you are four times more likely to experience relationship issues. Chances of conflict are significantly increased, and the effect of sleep deprivation on our cognitive abilities means that we are less able to understand the humour in any situation, making us more unpleasant to be around.

Poor sleep & your appearance
On a seemingly shallower but surely important note, sleep deprivation can make us less attractive. Even though we like to think that our appearance is not in itself hugely influential on our relationships, our self-confidence certainly is – and it’s often linked to the way we feel about our bodies. Two telltale signs of insomnia when it comes to our appearance are skin ageing and weight gain. Sleep plays a vital role in the repair and regeneration of our cells, including skin cells. The less you sleep, the less time your skin has to repair itself, and the more Cortisol is released into your body – a stress hormone which accelerates cell ageing. Furthermore, poor sleep disrupts the appetite and satiety hormones Leptin and Ghrelin, causing us to crave foods high in sugar, eat more, and gain weight.

Sharing a bed
It is important to understand that insomnia doesn’t only affect those suffering from it, but also their partners. Oftentimes, when the insomniac thinks ‘This is going to ruin my relationship – I can’t be the partner that I wish to be!’, the insomniac’s partner is thinking the exact same thing. Only, in this case, it’s as a result of feeling unable to help, which can be equally detrimental to a relationship.

This duality of insomnia as a problem is most evident when it comes to sharing a bed. The sleeping partner might worry that their snoring or even breathing will make it difficult for the insomniac to sleep, whereas the insomniac fears that their twisting and turning, or their need to keep a light on to read, will wake their partner up. The solution some couples turn to is sleeping in separate bedrooms, or they turn to earplugs and eye-masks.  Even though these all seem like reasonable choices, such measures add to our anticipation that falling asleep will be difficult, undermine trust in our natural ability to do so, and ultimately magnify the problem.

What you can do
Instead of moving out of your bedroom or using sleep aids, aim to re-train your brain to drift off naturally, regardless of what’s going on around you. The truth is that the perfect sleeping environment is often impossible to achieve, and so you must learn how not to rely on it too heavily. This is something we have been teaching our clients for more than 9 years now, and it’s something you can learn, too.

From going back to happily sharing a bed with your partner to revealing a more well-rested, present, and ultimately more pleasant version of yourself, it’s clear how investing in your sleep can have a wonderful impact on your relationship. To find out how The Sleep School can help you sleep better and live better, naturally, click here.

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