Want to Sleep Better? Find a Good Mate

Dreaming lady

In unsurprising news, women in bad relationships have poorer quality of sleep. Of course, maybe all these women date men who snore. A study conducted by Wendy M. Troxel, PhD from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues, showed quality of sleep for women is associated with the stability of their romantic relationships. Women currently experiencing insecurity in their relationships may notice a negative change in their sleeping habits.

The study consisted of 370 mid-life women from Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI, Pittsburgh, PA and Oakland, CA: the women self-identified themselves as Caucasian (46 percent), African American (38 percent) and Chinese (16 percent).  All of the participants were previously involved in an eight-year longitudinal study program called SWAN, Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Troxel used the data collected from SWAN to track the relationship status change of the participants over the course of eight years. The sleep study was conducted over a 35-day period in the participants’ homes, following their usual sleep schedules. Troxel utilized sleep monitoring equipment to measure the patients’ length of continuous sleep, interrupted sleep, length of different stages of sleep, and body movements. Along with the recorded evidence, the participants completed sleep diaries for the entire duration of the study. The participants also completed surveys that contained questions concerning their financial strain, BMI, depressive state, menopausal status, and sleep medication use.

The study analysis was separated into two parts: the first analysis examined the association between relationship status and sleep habits and the second analysis examined the association between relationship transition and sleep habits. For the first analysis, the women were placed into two categories based on the reports from the most previous SWAN interview: if the women were married or living as married for the duration of SWAN, they were categorized as “married” and if the women were single, separated, divorced, or widowed they were categorized as “unmarried”. The results showed that unmarried women experienced more interrupted sleep than married women. However, after the information from the surveys were considered, the differences between married and unmarried women were insignificant; this means that the variation in sleep quality previously seen between the two groups was actually affected by those factors, not relationship status.

For the second analysis, the women were placed into four categories: women who were married during the entire duration of SWAN were categorized as “consistently married”, women who were single, separated, divorced, or widowed were categorized as “consistently unmarried”, women who started a relationship were categorized as “gained a partner”, and women who ended a relationship were categorized as “lost a partner”.  The results showed that the “lost a partner” and “consistently unmarried” participants had significantly worse sleep quality than the” consistently married” participants.

The results of Troxel’s study suggest relationship transition and quality influence sleep habits more than relationship status.  In another study, happily married women showed less anxiety than single women and women in poor relationships, with the reasoning that a successful marriage encourages a sense of emotional and financial stability.  Woman are purported to be more psychologically and physiologically affected by relationships than men. So, it is sufficient to say that single women and women in bad relationships experience poorer sleep due to the negative emotional effects of consistent or forthcoming instability. Of course, these effects do not have to turn into permanent conditions.

If you are going through a divorce, separation, or previously widowed and suffer from poor sleep quality, see a doctor or counselor for possible remedies.

In the meantime, consider getting a dog, puppies help single women fight the blues.

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