“It doesn’t take a study to tell us that a lack of sleep affects our cognitive capacities, but luckily, there are a lot of them. Sleep deprivation can affect everything from cognition to attention to decision-making.” ~ Alice G. Walton: ‘7 Ways Sleep Affects The Brain (And What Happens If It Doesn’t Get Enough).’
Okay, so we’re not going to ramble on about the importance of sleep. You’re a smart group of folks and, more than likely, you’ve dealt with lack of sleep once or twice. Suffice to say that sleep deprivation is considered a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Without a doubt, thinking (aka ‘cognitive’) abilities decline rapidly when we don’t sleep enough. To compensate, we’ll hit the cursed snooze button; borderline-overdose on caffeine; sleepwalk into the office; try miserably to work for eight hours – and get the hell home. The question then becomes: did you learn a lesson? Too many of us don’t for whatever reason.
Many of us don’t prioritize sleep. This uncomfortable truth negatively affects so many areas of our lives, including relationships.
Lack of sleep is terrible for love
Many studies have reaffirmed the physical and mental toll of sleep deprivation. Considering that relationships take up a large part of our time and stamina, it’s hardly surprising to find that lack of sleep can inflict substantial damage.
Let’s talk about how skimping on sleep can wreak havoc on your love life:
1. You’re more impulsive
June Pilcher, a professor of psychology at Clemson University in South Carolina, states: “Self-control is part of daily decision-making…Studies have also found that sleep deprivation decreases self-control but increases hostility in people, which can create problems in the workplace and at home.” We’re stating the obvious here, but impulsivity and relationships are usually a dangerous mix.
Tip #1: Don’t snap at your spouse or children. Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
2. Your sex drive plummets
Studies have linked sleep deprivation to low testosterone levels in both men and women. It’s important to understand that not only can sleep deprivation reduce sex drive, but it can result in sexual dysfunction. The potent effects of poor sleep; including fatigue, low energy, and sleepiness, almost always has a dampening – and potentially debilitating – impact on libido.
Tip #2: To help relax and induce sleep, try a quick 10-minute meditation. Focus your attention on the inhale and exhale. Disregard the random thoughts that pop into your head (at first, this will happen a lot!)
3. You’re less attractive
Your partner is with you for many reasons, including your attractiveness. While the innate human tendency to seek out an individual who is physically attractive fades a bit after a while, it is nonetheless important. When we feel healthy, we feel more attractive and confident. In fact, these characteristics are inseparable.
Per one Swedish study, researchers note the following: “Our findings show that sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive, and more tired compared with when they are well-rested. This suggests that humans are sensitive to sleep-related facial cues, with potential implications for social and clinical judgments and behavior.”
Tip #3: If you are a smoker or coffee-drinker, avoid indulging 4-6 hours before bedtime.
4. You’re less grateful
Amie Gordon, a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkeley, states:“Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner’s. Make sure to say ‘thanks’ when your partner does something nice.”
You read that correctly: being deprived of sleep can cause someone to forget to say “thanks.” Given that it requires almost no effort to utter two words, it must feel like lifting bricks trying to conjure up a meaningful idea.
Tip #4: Make it a habit of falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day.
5. You’re more hostile
Every relationship has disagreements. No amount of sleep you get will negate this fact. However, adequate sleep may just make any verbal spat less aggressive. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a relationship scientist at the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, states: “When people (sleep less), it’s a little like looking at the world through dark glasses. Their moods are poorer. We’re grumpier. Lack of sleep hurts the relationship.”
Tip #5: While a heavy meal prior to bedtime is a bad idea, a small snack may help induce sleep, according to WebMD.