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article imageHow lack of sleep fuels marital stress

By Tim Sandle     Jun 26, 2017 in Health
Lack of sleep carries many social ills, from grumpiness to relationship issues. It can also lead to something else more serious: stress-related inflammation.
The link to lack of sleep and inflammation comes from new research carried out at The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. The institute specializes in psychoneuroimmunology, which is concerned with how the brain interacts with the body's immune system. The new concern with the type of inflammation identified is the connection with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis together with other diseases.
The lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Wilson has explained the implications of a lack of sleep in communication to Digital Journal: "We know sleep problems are also linked with inflammation and many of the same chronic illnesses. So we were interested to see how sleep related to inflammation among married couples, and whether one partner’s sleep affected the other’s inflammation."
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For the study, the scientists recruited 43 couples. The couples were evaluated over two study visits. With both visits the couples provided blood samples and undertook a questionnaire concerning how many hours they had slept for each of the two nights. Following this, the scientists asked the couples to attempt to resolve a topic that was intentionally intended to spark conflict. Following the "discussion" between the couples, blood samples were again taken.
The results showed that those who had slept less in the past few nights did not necessarily wake up with higher inflammation; however, they soon developed a greater inflammatory response following the argument with their partner. This means sleep deprivation increased vulnerability to an external stressor - in this case the other party. When the findings were quantified, it was found that for every hour of sleep lost (sleep of less than seven hours per night), the levels of two known inflammatory markers increased by 6 percent. With those who argued, however, these markers rose by 10 percent for each hour of lost sleep.
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The findings are not only of general health significance, they can put relationships at risk. This is because issue that sleep patterns of couples often track together. Hence if one person is restless this invariably impacts on the other person's sleep.
The new study is analyzed and discussed in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. The research paper is titled "Shortened sleep fuels inflammatory responses to marital conflict: Emotion regulation matters."
More about Sleep deprivation, Sleeplessness, Hormones, inflammation, marital stress
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