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Do Not Argue. Get Some Sleep.

September 8, 2017
Plain English Version

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There is an old song that goes:

“Lucky, lucky, lucky me, I’m a lucky son of a gun, I work eight hours, I sleep eight hours, I have eight hours of fun.”

It is having eight hours of sleep that is a problem.

Study after study has shown that sleep is a vital part of health. It affects how well people do at work and how well they do in school.

A new study shows that sleep also affects how couples argue. Sleep does not seem to change whether couples argue or not. The topics of money, jobs, children and the like come up all the time. The issue related to sleep is how hostile the arguments are.

The men and women in the study reported varying amounts of sleep. It was anywhere from three and a half to nine hours a night. Each couple made two visits to the lab. Researchers asked them to talk about the things that caused the most conflict. After all the data were in, a clear pattern emerged.

Couples were more likely to be hostile when both partners had less than seven hours of sleep. The couples with more than seven hours of sleep still argued with each other. But the tone of their conflict was different.

An expert said, “It’s not the fact that the couples were disagreeing. It’s the lack of sleep and the way in which they disagreed. The better functioning couples could do it with humor and kindness. But still, disagree. The poorer functioning couples could get pretty nasty.”

There was one other finding. Blood samples showed that sleep deprivation makes conflicts harder on the body. For example, inflammation linked to heart disease and cancer. If one person had a good sleep, the results were different. That person kept the effects of conflict down.

The lesson? Conflict may not be a sign that a relationship is in trouble. Getting more sleep may save the day.

Source: The New York Times September 4, 2017

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