Anyone who’s gotten sucked into an all-night Law and Order marathon knows a lack of shut-eye can wreak havoc on you—poor sleeping habits make you cranky, make it difficult to focus, and in the long-term, have even been linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.
And now research is showing that poor sleep habits are negatively impacting your love life, too.
The UC Berkeley study enrolled over 60 couples between the ages of 18 and 56 in two experiments. The first experiment asked couples to keep a journal of their sleep patterns and how the quality of their snoozing affected their feelings about their significant other. The second experiment tasked the couples with problem-solving tasks.
Turns out, you’re not the only one snapping at your significant other after a night of tossing and turning. In both experiments, researchers found that participants were less appreciative and showed less gratitude towards their partners after a bad night of sleep. “Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner’s,” explained UC Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study Amie Gordon.
A night of sleep that leaves both of you exhausted can leave you feeling “too tired to say thanks” and less attuned to your partner’s needs and moods. And even if it’s just one of you who’s sleep-deprived, the partner who got their full eight hours can still end up feeling unappreciated and taken for granted.
So what’s a snoring, tossing and turning, sheet-hogging couple to do?
1. Have Enough Blankets to Go Around
Sharing a blanket is cozy when you’re cuddling in front of the television, but when it comes to turning in for the night, make sure there’s enough blanket to go around, even if that means separate blankets. No blanket-hogging means fewer interruptions during the night, which means a more peaceful sleep.
2. Take Snoring Seriously
Snoring is annoying—and it can also be a sign of a serious underlying cause, like sleep apnea. It also doesn’t tend to go away on its own, so if you or your partner snore, address it with a doctor who can suggest treatments and remedies. A little quiet goes a long way when it comes to getting a good night of rest.
3. Upgrade Your Mattress
A king-sized bed or a memory foam mattress can make all the difference in giving you both enough room and comfort to sleep well. Consider it an investment towards your relationship.
4. Let There Be No Light
Turn off iPhones and laptops before crawling into bed, and, if your bedroom lets in too much light, consider blackout curtains or wearing a sleeping mask to bed—you’ll sleep more deeply when your room is dark.
5. Make Your Bedroom a Kid-Free Zone
Lots of families co-sleep with younger children, but having the kids snooze alongside you can have an impact on the quality of your sleep, leaving you distracted and moody the next morning. Consider gradually weaning your kids off co-sleeping if you find yourself tossing and turning or waking up in the middle of the night. The same goes for the kids’ toys in your room—keep the bedroom off-limits for playtime for a more peaceful atmosphere when you’re ready for bed (bonus: no more stepping on Legos when you get up to pee in the middle of the night!)