There is hardly any marriage devoid of conflict and individuals having expectations to the contrary may be labeled naïve at best. However, it is always interesting to probe into the reasons why some marriages are doomed for disaster while some turn out successful despite the odds. A recent study conducted by the Ohio State Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research brought forth the notion that besides basic personality clashes, an individual’s lifestyle may have a significant role to play in the recipe for a harmonious marriage.

How the study was conducted

Participants in the study were 43 couples, married for anywhere between 3 and 27 years, who had experienced marital conflict on topics that commonly affect heterosexual couples. Each couple made two visits to the lab, where they were nudged into talking about topics that were the reasons for routine conflict in their marriage. Videos of these arguments were later evaluated on an objective score. The results revealed a pattern: couples who ran on less than seven hours of sleep were more likely to be hostile in their interaction than their well-rested counterparts. Even though those who slept for seven hours or more did argue, the tone of their fight was different- it was more constructive and at times even considerate.

Director at the Ohio State Institute of Behavioral Medicine Research, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser said that sleep deprivation is similar to looking at the world through dark glasses.

Other negative impacts of less sleep

Such findings are not entirely new. Other studies have also revealed that sleep-deprivation makes people crankier and poorer in their social interaction in general.

This particular study went even further and revealed another significant correlation: poor sleep and marital discord together may cause health problems as well. After a fight, such couples had higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their body.

The only relatively better news from the study, according to ead author, Stephanie Wilson, was that both sleep deprivation and conflict together caused the inflammation.

Well-rested spouses decreased the chances of a bitter altercation.

One major takeaway from this study for bickering couples undergoing counseling or taking stock of their marriage, is that lifestyle choices like getting sufficient sleep (or lack thereof) play a very crucial role. The answer may be as simple as a little more shut eye.