Conducted by the University of California, Amie Gordon and Serena Chen found that just one night's poor sleep can damage your relationship.
In the research, reported Psyblog, 78 couples were tracked over a two-week period. Each day the couples were asked to make notes about their sleep quality and any arguments they'd had with their partners that day.
The results showed that even for those who were good sleepers, just a single night's poor sleep showed an increase in arguments and conflict the next day. “For the first time, to our knowledge, we can see the process of how the nature, degree, and resolution of conflict are negatively impacted by poor sleep,” said Chen, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. The study was published online in the journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Yinka Thomas who wrote Get A Good Night's Sleep advises looking at your sleeping environment. "Keep your bedroom dark. This is because the all-important sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is extremely light sensitive and may not be produced optimally unless it's completely dark."
You may also want to be aware of how hot or cold the room is - something you may disagree on with your partner.
"A room that is too hot will prevent your core temperature from going down," says Yinka, "which is essential for switching on the 'sleep mechanism'. Get a room thermometer to ensure the right temperature range."
You may also want to take a long hard look at your lifestyle. Jessica Alexander from The Sleep Council also advises: "To ensure you experience good sleep it’s essential to follow good lifestyle habits and to eliminate the factors that are causing you disturbed sleep. For example making sure that your bedroom is the right environment, that your bed is up to scratch, looking at the lighting in your home, and avoiding foods and drinks that can hinder sleep."
Here are The Sleep Council's top tips below:
- Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better.
- Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old.
- Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close too bedtime or it may keep you awake!
- Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee – especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
- Don’t over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.
- Don’t smoke. Yes, it’s bad for sleep, too: smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and often experience more sleep disruption.
- Try to relax before going to bed. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, do some yoga – all help to relax both the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation tape, too.
- Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day.
- If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.
You can download Get A Good Night's Sleep for free, here.
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Build time into your day for a bedtime routine-we are more like dimmer switches than ‘on-off switches’ so we need time to unwind. This may include a warm bath, a hot milky drink/chamomile tea and listening to some relaxing music or an audio book.
Pull your socks up
Wear socks to bed. Cold feet = a poor night's sleep. Due to the fact that they have the poorest circulation, the feet often feel cold before the rest of the body and studies have shown that wearing socks reduces night awakenings.
Use sunlight to set your body clock
As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and get some fresh air for 10 minutes. The bright sunlight (or any bright light) tells your body’s natural biological clock that it’s time to wake up and that same clock will then be set to tell your body it’s time to go to sleep about 14-16 hours later.
Don't change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day, even on the weekends! This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
Change your bedding once a week and dust regularly. Fresh crisp sheets will help you get a better night’s sleep and clearing excess dust can help minimise any irritation in the airways, which could disrupt sleep. Review your bed linen for a better night’s sleep and choose sheets that feel comfortable against your skin. Research carried out by Lenor has shown that 74% of people surveyed slept drastically better on freshly washed bed sheets.
If you're too warm it can lead to a fitful night's sleep. Your body works hard to regulate your temperature while you're asleep, so help it along with cool, breathable cottons and keep the room cool at 16-18 degrees centigrade. If you share your bed and like different temperatures consider buying two separate duvets.
Exercise to sleep
Regular exercisers have better quality sleep. Aerobic exercise in particular has a significant impact on sleep particularly when it’s done in daylight so try to integrate exercise into your life by moving throughout the day eg getting off the bus one stop early, taking a walk in your lunch break etc.
Set yourself a technology cut off time
Computers, mobiles, smart phones and TVs all over stimulate our minds and ruin sleep, so try to turn them off at around 9pm. Where possible keep them out of the bedroom.
Room and bed sheet fragrance
Fragrances can set the tone of the room and generate a calming effect which will induce better quality deep sleep leaving you more rested, energetic and alert the next morning. Filling the bedroom with lavender or chamomile scents around an hour before bedtime will create the proper atmosphere for relaxation, sleep or romance. Try washing your sheets in fragrant Lenor fabric softener or alternatively place a few drops of relaxing aromatherapy oils on your pillow.
Sleep in complete darkness or as close to that as you can. There also should be as little light in the bathroom as possible if you get up in the middle of the night. As soon as you turn on the light, your body will immediately cease all production of the important sleep aid melatonin which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.