Getting a good night's sleep is a major challenge for millions of Americans. The National Institute for Health reports that more than 60 million Americans struggle with sleep issues—from waking repeatedly during the night, to snoring, to sleep apnea, to full-fledged insomnia.
But take a look at how it's affecting couples. According to a 2005 study done by the National Sleep Foundation (www.SleepFoundation.org):
- Sleep problems can be contagious. One spouse's sleep problem can cause the other spouse to lose up to an hour of sleep a night. That's 365 hours a year!
- Seventy-seven percent of respondents report that their partner has a sleep-related problem, and the most common problem is snoring.
- Seventy-eight percent of those spouses admit that they also frequently experience a sleep problem.
- One-fourth of couples have sex less often or have lost interest in sex because they are too sleepy.
- Thirty-three percent say they have problems in their relationship because of their partner's abnormal sleep.
- Twenty-three percent report that, as a result of a sleep problem, they or their partner sleeps in a separate bed, bedroom, or on the couch. "I've found when couples are forced to sleep apart because of one partner's sleep problems, it often has a terrible effect on the relationship," says Meir Kryger, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at St. Boniface Hospital Research Center at the University of Manitoba in Winnepeg and co-chair of the 2005 study. "It's a move of last resort; the partner whose sleep is disturbed feels there is no alternative, but both partners are often devastated by this action."