How Sleep Affects Your Relationships

According to science, sleep could be the key to a more harmonious relationship.

In the words of Shakespeare, the path to true love never did run smooth. But according to science, sleep certainly helps. If you've ever snapped at your partner after a sleepless night or felt emotionally and physically exhausted around them the problem might lie in your sleep habits. Here are ways that sleep affects your relationship:

All the energy it takes to make a relationship work is decimated by lack of sleep
It takes energy to be a loving and attentive partner, continued sleep deprivation can prevent you from being mentally and emotionally present in your relationship. According to American neurologist, Chris Winter, sleep deprivation causes the body to go into 'survival mode' and diminishes the brain's ability to recall and retain information, and perform basic everyday tasks. Sleep deprivation can make that romantic dinner or shopping for your partner's birthday gift an exhausting chore instead of a meaningful gesture. Relationships take time and effort—two things that require energy and presence of mind.

How your body and brain processes emotions is affected by the quality of your sleep
Have you ever had an argument with your partner over a seemingly harmless comment or situation? According to a 2013 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, your amygdala might be to blame. The amygdala is the part of your brain that processes emotions and memories. When you don't get enough sleep your amygdala doesn't function properly and releases abnormal levels of neurotransmitters, this can lead to depression, stress and overreacting to situations that normally wouldn't bother you. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your brain function and can negatively affect how you react to external situations, as well as prevent you from recognising your partner's emotional cues.

Sleep disorders can cause a low libido
Sleep on a holistic level affects all aspects of your health—including your libido. Anxiety, stress, and depression are side effects of insomnia and sleep deprivation and are known to cause sexual dysfunction. Lack of sleep causes the brain to suppress the production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone in favor of stress hormones like cortisol which gives your body a natural energy boost during stressful times. Low energy levels or 'feeling tired' from lack of sleep can also cause you to lose interest in sex altogether. A study by the University of Michigan found that individuals who sleep longer were more interested in sex the following day. Sleep may just be the best aphrodisiac.

Read more about the effects of sleep on your mood and daily performance here.