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Couples sleep in sync when the wife is satisfied with their marriage

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Couples are more likely to sleep in sync when the wife is more satisfied with their marriage. Results of a new study, "Marital/Cohabitation Status and History in Relation to Sleep in Midlife Women," recently published online in the journal Sleep, show that overall synchrony in sleep-wake schedules among couples was high, as those who slept in the same bed were awake or asleep at the same time about 75 percent of the time. When the wife reported higher marital satisfaction, the percent of time the couple was awake or asleep at the same time was greater.

Couples sleep in sync when the wife is satisfied with their marriage, says new research. Relationship satisfaction can influence how couples sleep together. A new study suggests that couples are more likely to sleep in sync when the wife is more satisfied with their marriage.

"Most of what is known about sleep comes from studying it at the individual level; however, for most adults, sleep is a shared behavior between bed partners," said lead author Heather Gunn, PhD, according to the June 5, 2014 news release, "Couples sleep in sync when the wife is satisfied with their marriage." Gunn is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh. "How couples sleep together may influence and be influenced by their relationship functioning." Gunn presented the findings on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

The sleep of married couples is more in sync than the sleep of random individuals

The study group consisted of 46 couples who completed relationship assessments. Objective sleep data also were gathered by actigraphy over a 10-day period. "The sleep of married couples is more in sync on a minute-by-minute basis than the sleep of random individuals," said Gunn, according to the news release. "This suggests that our sleep patterns are regulated not only by when we sleep, but also by with whom we sleep."

Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, led the study. Troxel is a behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Research funding was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI; HL093220) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. With about 9,000 members, the AASM is the largest professional membership society for physicians, scientists and other health care providers dedicated to sleep medicine. For more information, visit the AASM website.

In another study by different researchers, "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Insomnia," you may wish to take a look at that study (a PDF file article) also appearing in the journal Sleep. The findings in that study concluded that mindfulness meditation appears to be a viable treatment for adults with chronic insomnia and could provide an alternative to traditional treatment for insomnia. Or check out, "A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Insomnia Disorder Delivered via an Automated Media-Rich Web Application." There's also the study, "Mindfulness-based stress reduction versus pharmacotherapy for chronic primary insomnia: a randomized controlled clinical trial," appearing in the journal Explore (NY). 2011.

You also may wish to see a study or its abstract, also published in the journal Sleep, "Cellular Aging and Restorative Processes: Subjective Sleep Quality and Duration Moderate the Association between Age and Telomere Length in a Sample of Middle-Aged and Older Adults." The current study provides evidence for an association between sleep quality, sleep duration, and cellular aging. Among older adults, better subjective sleep quality was associated with the extent of cellular aging, suggesting that sleep duration and sleep quality may be added to a growing list of modifiable behaviors associated with the adverse effects of aging.

Another fascinating piece of research is "Sleep after learning strengthens connections between brain cells." In study published June 6, 2014 in Science, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center show for the first time that sleep after learning encourages the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions from brain cells that connect to other brain cells and facilitate the passage of information across synapses, the junctions at which brain cells meet. Noteworthy are findings that the activity of brain cells during deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep, after learning is critical for such growth, that article reports.

The research findings, in mice, provide important physical evidence in support of the hypothesis that sleep helps consolidate and strengthen new memories, and show for the first time how learning and sleep cause physical changes in the motor cortex, a brain region responsible for voluntary movements.

Noteworthy might be the old adage, "happy wife, happy life," at least when it comes to sleeping and waking in sync with one's partner. But what about couples sleeping in separate bedrooms for many decades? Or when the wife is unhappy but the husband is not overly concerned as long as he's left to his hobbies? The goal for those with insomnia is to find a safe place to sleep where an individual can relax.

The key word is to be able to feel safe...safe enough so when you go to sleep at night you'll know you can pretty much bet you'll awake in the morning and chaos or loud noises in your surroundings usually will not awake you...unless you're caring for that newborn who is up every two hours through the night. Then again, if you're in a place for the elderly that advertises relaxation and peacefulness, and you want mindfulness, but your roommate of any age has mental issues that include violence such as intermittent explosive disorder, you'd be better off living in peace elsewhere.

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