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SLEEP: Wives’ Sleep Problems Impact Marital Interactions

Last Updated: June 13, 2011.

Marital interaction in couples is affected by wives' sleep latency but not by husbands' sleep, according to a study presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held from June 11 to 15 in Minneapolis.

MONDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Marital interaction in couples is affected by wives' sleep latency (SL) but not by husbands' sleep, according to a study presented at the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, held from June 11 to 15 in Minneapolis.

Wendy M. Troxel, Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed the bi-directional association between nightly sleep duration and continuity and daily marital interactions in 35 healthy, married couples with an average age of 32 years who were free from sleep, psychiatric, and medical disorders. SL, wakefulness after sleep onset, and total sleep time were measured using 10 nights of actigraphy. Marital interactions were assessed daily using electronic diaries, with four items measuring positive interactions, including feeling supported or valued by spouse, and four measuring negative marital interactions, such as feeling criticized or ignored by spouse.

The investigators found that greater SL in wives predicted significantly more negative and less positive interactions the next day in their own and their husband's reports. In contrast, husbands' sleep had no effect on his or his wife's report of marital interactions the following day. Reports of higher levels of positive marital interactions by husbands were significantly predictive of his shorter sleep duration the following night. These findings remained significant even after adjusting for depressive symptoms.

"These findings have important clinical implications inasmuch as they highlight the potential interpersonal consequences of sleep disorders, such as insomnia," the authors write.

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