Why You Get in More Fights With Your Partner When You’re Tired: Ever picked a fight with your partner after a rough night’s sleep? You’re not imagining things — and you’re definitely not alone.

Sleep deprivation can cause many problems, not the least of which is irritability and diminished patience, and overall struggle with mental health. That means you’re more likely to snap at your partner when you haven’t slept well.

Emotional Challenges of Sleep Deprivation

If you’re feeling cranky when you’re short on sleep, it’s no coincidence. Not getting enough sleep has cognitive effects. You may feel more emotionally reactive, with responses that are more intense and impulsive than you would be on a good night’s sleep.

Chronic sleep debt can make these issues even worse. When you’re frequently short on sleep, you’ll be more likely to overreact or have angry of frustrated reactions.

Poor sleep can contribute to a more negative outlook. That means your mind may be stuck in a negative place and you’re at a greater risk of depression and anxiety. You may find yourself fixating on the negative aspects of your relationship, which can put a strain between you and your partner.

Managing Sleep for a Better Relationship

Snapping at your partner when you’re tired is a mistake, but you can do better in the future. Use these tips to improve sleep and your ability to manage emotions with your partner:

  • Make sleep a priority. Talk to your partner about your sleep schedule if you’re not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Discuss adjustments as needed. For example, you may not be giving yourself enough time at night to sleep. You should plan for seven to nine hours of sleep each night, counting backward from when you need to get out of bed and start your day.
  • Talk about sleep etiquette. If you share a bed with your partner, they might be interfering with your ability to sleep well — and that certainly doesn’t help avoid fights. Discuss issues including snoring, watching TV or using mobile devices in bed, even hitting the snooze button. It may even be a good idea to look for a mattress that has limited motion transfer if your partner’s movement at night is disruptive for sleep.
  • Practice healthy sleep habits together. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and go through a relaxing bedtime routine each night. Create nighttime rituals together so you can wind down together for a good night’s rest, such as doing yoga together or taking a few minutes to talk about your day and what’s ahead tomorrow.
  • Get treatment for sleep disorders. Sometimes, difficult sleep is a chronic problem. Sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea can make getting good sleep an ongoing challenge, leaving you tired and cranky day after day. This can put a strain on all aspects of your life, not the least of which is your personal relationships. If sleep is a regular problem for you, it’s important to talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment options. You may need help with treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia or a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.

Sleeping better means feeling better, not just physically, but emotionally. While sleep deprivation can leave you feeling irritable, getting adequate rest can help you manage impulsive emotions and be more patient with your partner.

Author - Amy Highland

Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.
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