207 Sleep on It

Based on research by Gordon, A. M., & Chen, S. (2014) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS.

Being tired can make us grumpy and irritable. So what kind of impact does sleep quality have on our relationships?

To answer this question, Psychologists Amie Gordon and Serena Chen assessed the impact of sleep on relationship conflict. They wanted to know if poor sleep influences the degree, nature, and ability to resolve conflict. In one two-week study, participants reported more conflict in their romantic relationships following a nights’ poor sleep.

The second study concluded that conflict resolution occurred most often when both partners were well rested and obtained a full night of sleep.  One night of sleep loss impaired problem solving, a skill that is necessary for achieving conflict resolution. The researchers noted that poorly rested individuals are likely to react negatively to problems in their relationships more often and more severely. They also have less empathy and are less accurate in assessing their partner’s emotions, crucial for working together to resolve problems.

Everyone has conflicts within their relationships. When addressing them, wait until you both have had a good night’s sleep before bringing up the problem for discussion. You will have greater likelihood of resolving your conflicts!


Gordon, A. M., & Chen, S. (2014). The Role of Sleep in Interpersonal Conflict Do Sleepless Nights Mean Worse Fights? Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(2), 168-175.

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