Relationships take effort to maintain as work, responsibilities, and life sometimes gets in the way. That’s only to be expected and all the more reason to try to maintain them. But, there’s one factor we don’t always consider yet has the potential to make or break relationships – sleep or the lack of it. We know the effect sleep has on physical and mental health but we aren’t always aware of just how important it is to relationships. However, science has frequently shown that it has a direct bearing and we certainly would do well to heed this.
Have you noticed how great you feel after a good night’s sleep? It’s not an illusion. Sleep actually influences your state of mind. Good sleep prepares you for the day ahead by giving you energy, making you alert and keeping you calm. These traits are undoubtedly useful in the workplace but they also matter in relationships. If you aren’t feeling your best, it goes without saying that you won’t be able to communicate properly and will be on edge. Lack of sleep reduces your brain’s ability to focus on various aspects of life, including relationships, as it’s too busy worrying about how to get through the day.
When you’re sleep-deprived, the amygdala – a part of the brain that processes emotions – doesn’t function like it’s supposed to. You overreact to small things and this can lead to conflict in relationships. Lack of sleep also makes you prone to illness. It affects the immune system by reducing the release of cytokine proteins, some of which help fight infection. Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are also reduced. It’s normal to feel irritable when ill so if you fall sick frequently, your relationships will definitely take a hit.
In the case of couples, there’s a bidirectional association between their sleep quality and their relationship. A study presented at SLEEP 2009 examined data from 29 co-sleeping couples who didn’t have children. Each maintained a sleep diary for 7 days and was asked to record the quality of their interactions 6 times a day. For women, it was found that negative partner interactions in the daytime were associated with poor sleep efficiency, both for them and their partners. In the case of men, better sleep was associated with positive ratings of relationship quality the next day.
I used to believe I was just a bad sleeper, until I bought my first NUVANNA bed! I haven’t slept this well in years, or possibly ever! I could not be more excited about the quality of this bed and the improvements it has brought to my sleep! This is an investment that you will not regret.
It’s not always easy learning to sleep better. Some interruptions like additional shifts at work can get in the way. However, there are certain things that are within your control.
You can’t sleep unless you’re relaxed. Your mind needs to be free of stress. When you come home from work, start unwinding. You can take a warm bath, cook a meal – if it relaxes you –, read a pleasant book or listen to soothing music. You can also meditate for half an hour to clear your mind. Make it a point not to open work emails – your home should be a place of relaxation and ‘me time’.
Each of us has a circadian rhythm that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Sometimes, it loses its way so that you have trouble sleeping and waking at the right times. By exposing yourself to morning sunlight, you can reset it to keep your cycle in tune with the hours of the day. You’ll be able to sleep and wake up when you’re supposed to without trouble.
This goes without saying but it can’t be stressed enough. Exercise is good for the body and the mind, keeping you healthy and boosting your mood. It releases feel-good endorphins that trigger a positive feeling. You become less stressed and less irritable. Endorphins also act as natural painkillers by activating opioid receptors in the brain. This can minimize aches and pains that can otherwise make you irritable.
It’s tempting to turn on the TV before bed but try not to. Most content is stimulating and not relaxing so your brain is kept alert. The goal should be to relax so that sleep comes easily. If you must watch a show, do it 1-2 hours before sleeping. That way, your mind will have time to calm down enough that you feel sleepy.
In addition to these tips, always remember to use a good mattress. You should feel supported and comfortable so that you sleep undisturbed through the night. The Nuvanna mattress is the perfect balance of support and comfort, thanks to its triple-layered construction. It’s designed by a materials scientist with over 20 years of experience in the industry. The top layer cools the body with the help of phase-changing gel particles that absorb body heat and disperse it. The middle layer isolates motion so you and your bed partner don’t feel each other’s movements. The bottom layer supports each part of the body and keeps the spine aligned.
If there’s one thing all of us need to prioritize, it’s sleep. The consequences of proper sleep such as better physical and mental health and positivity are too good to ignore. Starting today, make it your mission to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. You’ll realize just how great you feel and how much better your relationships fare.