Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fighting More? Sleep Deprivation Could be Causing Your Relationship Problems

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If you’ve noticed you and your significant other getting into more arguments than usual, there might be something more at work besides differing opinions. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep, and if you’re getting less than that, lack of sleep could be affecting your behavior. The good news – things usually look up once you start getting some sleep.

Lack of Sleep Changes Your Brain

Lack of sleep can wreak some serious havoc on your brain. We all have an emotional center in our brains called the amygdala. When you’re tired, this part of your brain becomes more active and sensitive to negative thoughts and emotions. At the same time, the part of the brain that controls executive functions and reasoning, called the prefrontal cortex, becomes less active. 

 As these parts of the brain become disconnected, your emotions start to swing. Situations you would normally shrug off can suddenly seem monumental in importance when you’re sleep deprived. The same thing can happen when you and your partner get into a disagreement. Maybe you’d normally be willing to compromise but lack of sleep causes you to dig in your heels.

The changes in the brain can’t help but affect your moods. That’s why irritability, anxiety, stress, and tension are all common symptoms of sleep deprivation. Where you start to run into trouble is when sleep deprivation continues to affect your moods because your moods can come back to cause sleep problems.

However, sleep deprivation doesn’t need to get in the way of your relationship. With a little time and understanding, you can develop better sleep habits so your decisions come from a place of emotional balance rather than instability.

Building Better Sleep Habits

Your daily habits from morning until evening can determine your sleep success.

In the Morning

Try to get up at the same time every day. A consistent schedule helps your body adjust and correctly time the release of sleep hormones. Morning is also a great time to exercise. Exercise wears out your body so you sleep better. A morning or afternoon workout will make sure that the rise in body temperature and release of adrenaline won’t interfere with your ability to fall asleep.


Sunlight stimulates the part of the brain that controls your sleep cycle, which means increasing your exposure to natural light can help regulate the release of sleep hormones. Try taking a walk outside or spending some time talking to your partner on your front porch.

Light exposure isn’t the only way your body times the release of sleep hormones. It’s also important to regularly time and space your meals throughout the day. If you like caffeinated drinks, mid-day is a good time to stop so that stimulants don’t block sleep hormones later on.

At Night

Keeping a consistent bedtime can help your body anticipate when to start the release of sleep hormones. Be sure to give yourself enough time in bed to get at least seven hours of sleep. You can also develop a relaxing bedtime routine to help you relieve stress and trigger the start of your sleep cycle. Two to three hours before bed is when it’s time to shut off your screens. The bright light from televisions and smartphones can suppress the release of sleep hormones because they mimic natural light.

If a lack of sleep is at the root of your relationship problems, a few nights of high-quality sleep might be all you need. Developing new habits may take time but they’re worth it in the end.

Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. For more information on sleep health, resource guides on better sleep, and reviews of sleep products, visit

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