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Can a Lack of Sleep Lead to Divorce?

You don't need to be a family attorney in Pasadena to know that couples who don't get enough sleep are probably not the happiest of people. After all, study after study has shown that Americans don't get enough sleep - and that this lack of sleep can cause all sorts of problems in their personal and professional lives. Now a new study suggests that women who suffer from a lack of sleep could be at risk for divorce.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh conducted an eye-opening, 10-day study of 35 young married couples. The study found that wives who experienced sleep deprivation tended to engage in negative marital interactions the next day (surprise, surprise).

"The findings suggest a wife's prolonged inability to sleep predicts her own and her husband's marital interactions, which tend to be more negative and less positive," said Wendy Troxel, the study's lead researcher.

Troxel said scientists used noninvasive sensors to monitor rest and activity cycles. The study participants were directed by researchers to record their daily assessment of their interaction with their spouse using electronic diaries. Wives that had troubles sleeping admitted to ignoring their partner, criticizing their spouse and having a lack of patience. These types of interactions and arguments are commonly referred to as divorce precursors, behaviors which may increase a couple's likelihood to breakup.

Not surprisingly, researchers did not find similar results in husbands who participated in the study. Men who lacked sleep didn't exhibit or record similar behaviors. Troxel attributes this to men being less expressive than women. According to medical experts, sleep deprivation can be a severe source of stress in a relationship and could lead to conflicts, separate bedrooms and divorce. Sleep deprivation is also a known cause of memory and cognitive impairment and may cause a decline in alertness, productivity and weight gain, according to Harvard Medical School.

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