Is Sleep Loss Affecting Your Relationship?

Stifle that yawn! Daytime sleepiness and fatigue don't have to come between you and your significant other. In fact, you can often achieve a much more harmonious relationship simply by figuring out how to get more z's and making sure you get the sleep you need. But first, you need to know what's causing you to lose sleep.

"Poor diet, stress and hormonal imbalances all can affect sleep," says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship therapist and research professor at the University of Michigan. "And not getting enough sleep definitely affects a relationship. Without sleep, we don't feel sexy, energetic or good about our bodies."

If you're not sleeping well and yet your partner is, this can cause resentment over time,"  says David Rapoport, MD, associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. "It's called sleep envy," he explains. "People get very annoyed with the bed partner because he is sleeping and they're not sleeping."

Being exhausted make you less patient with your partner, and more likely to read unintended meaning into the things that you partner says. When your partner mentions feeling cold, you may take that remark out of context when you are tired and snap back, "Oh, you think I'm a cheapskate for not turning up the heat!"

Fatigue also makes you less likely to constructively deal with disagreements and differences with your partner. It becomes too difficult to have a conversation, and way to easy to raise your voice. "Interrupting, name calling and yelling aren't good ways to deal with conflict," Orbuch says. "And these also affect our sexual desire."

So how to get back to good, clean sleep hygiene?

Solve the snoring issue by seeing a doctor and taking steps to stop it, says Jordan S. Josephson, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and the author of "Sinus Relief Now." Snoring could be caused by sleep apnea, by being obese or by having a deviated septum. "It is important for both partners to resolve this in the partner who snores," he says. "There are new treatments for snoring and even if a snorer needs surgery they can be back at work in a day or two."

Plan to become relaxed enough at night that you can actually get to sleep. This sounds easier than it is because it's hard to unwrap your hands from that Blackberry and to will yourself to step away from your laptop. "Our society encourage us to not get to sleep, to read our email at midnight," Rapaport says. "But this is when you should be relaxing and talking with your partner in bed."

Take sleep seriously. It's your right to get sufficient sleep, not a little extra perk to indulge in when you have time. "We treat sleep as an aside and we may boast about how little sleep we need," says Michael Nolledo, MD, director of the Institute of Sleep Medicine at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, New Jersey. "But there is a reason that we should be spending one third of our lives sleeping. It restores the body and it restores the mind."