As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may be looking for ways to show your appreciation for your significant other. Chocolates, flowers, jewelry…how about sleep? That’s right, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have recently discovered that sleep deprivation takes a negative toll on relationships. Psychologist Amie Gordon explains: “Poor sleep is not just experienced in isolation. Instead, it influences our interactions with others, such as our ability to be grateful, a vital social emotion.”
Gordon, and Serena Chen, a psychology professor at Berkeley, conducted three studies to demonstrate the link between sleep quality and gratitude:
- The first study found that people who got enough sleep were more grateful after listing five things in life that they appreciated, compared to people who did not sleep well.
- The second study monitored students’ sleep every day for two weeks, along with their feelings of gratitude. They found that there was a decline in feelings of gratitude on days after a poor night’s sleep.
- The final study revealed that people feel less grateful toward their significant other if either they or their partner does not sleep well.
Most of us realize that we’re more grouchy after a poor night’s sleep. What we may not realize is the significant impact it has on others. As Gordon puts it, “Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner’s. You may have slept like a baby, but if your partner didn’t, you’ll probably both end up grouchy.”
Healthy adults generally require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you can’t seem to get enough sleep on a regular basis, talk to your family physician about a referral to a sleep specialist. There may be important sleep habits you can work on, or you may have a sleep disorder that can be treated. It’s not only in the interest of your health, it’s also in the interest those most important to you.