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Ability to sleep while caring for infant predicts relationship satisfaction

Filed in
  • parenting
  • relationships

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Jun 08, 2010
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A couple who can sleep while caring for an infant is a couple that’s more likely to last. Results of a new study show first-time parents’ relationship satisfaction is related to the amount of sleep they get.

Investigators studied 22 couples 7 weeks after the birth of their first child.

Self-reported relationship satisfaction tended to be higher when parents slept longer, as measured by actigraphy. How well they thought they slept had less of an impact.

First-time fathers were more satisfied than their partners estimated. Mothers also overrated their spouses sleep quality. Fathers tended to underestimate their wives subjective sleep quality.

Researchers measured the parents’ sleep efficiency and total sleep time for one week using wrist actigraphy. Parents also reported their perceived sleep and their partner’s sleep using a Palm Pilot. At the end of the period the couples rated their own and their partner’s relationship satisfaction.

The study’s lead author said although the findings don’t allow for causality, they suggest parents would greatly benefit from measures that target sleep during the postpartum period.

Parents typically have high levels of sleep disturbance and significant daytime functional impairments after childbirth.

The AASM encourages new parents to make sleep a top priority. A well rested couple can provide the best care for an infant child.
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