You may know that the average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep each day for proper functioning. But, did you know that your relationship with your significant other and some of the choices you make while awake impact the quality of your sleep? Recent research has identified two salient factors that affect sleep patterns among military couples: loneliness and alcohol consumption.
Loneliness and sleep
A recent study found that service members and spouses who shared of a positive event (e.g., a good day at work) with their partner and perceived that their partner responded in a supportive manner reported less loneliness and more intimacy with their partner. In turn, those who reported less loneliness generally reported better sleep. This suggests that couples in healthy relationship that are characterized by connection and intimacy may have better sleep. So, how can you tackle loneliness and potentially improve your sleep along the way?
- Start small. Tell your partner (or a friend or family member) about a positive experience you have had, which may build connection and intimacy.
- Ask loved ones intentional questions to spark positive conversations. For example, try asking “what was the best thing that happened to you today?”
- Respond to your partner’s sharing of both positive and negative events in a supportive manner. For example, show you are interested by asking engaging follow-up questions.
It will take time to build connection and intimacy, but investing in others is a win/win. It promotes healthy relationships and may help you to have better sleep quality and longer sleep duration.
Alcohol consumption & sleep
Research has also consistently found a relationship between alcohol consumption and sleep patterns. More recently, a study examined the impact of alcohol consumption between romantic partners. Consistent with previous research, higher levels of alcohol consumption were related to poorer sleep patterns. Interestingly, the consequences of problematic drinking not only affected the individual, but also impacted their significant other. More specifically, when service members had alcohol related problems, their partners tended to have sleep difficulties, mainly shorter average sleep duration. So, what should you do with this information?
- Although some believe drinking will help them to sleep, research has shown that drinking is associated with poor quality sleep .
- Assess your sleep quality. Do you feel that you can easily fall asleep, stay asleep, and enjoy an overall great sleep quality? Consider how your daily activities (like alcohol consumption) may be impacting your sleep.
- Seek support. There are a numerous alcohol related resources available to service members and their spouses. If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption, consider contacting the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous group to help support you in overcoming your addiction. Military ONESOURCE is an excellent resource for finding relevant resources that will suit your needs and goals.