- Couples with different sleep rhythms tend to fight more, and daylight-saving time can make it worse.
- Experts say to treat your partner with extra kindness for a few weeks after DST.
- Quickies and day sex may help offset the effects of time change.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Starting Sunday, our days will be filled with more sunshine — but at a cost: losing one hour of sleep.
Daylight-saving time (DST) requires us to push our clocks forward. Even though losing one hour of shut-eye may seem harmless, the time change is linked to an uptick in heart attacks, strokes, and possible relationship issues, too.
Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and author of Sharing the Covers: Every Couple’s Guide to Better Sleep, said sleep deprivation can create conflict between partners.
“Your mood suffers, and you’re more irritable and likely to take that out on your partner,” Troxel told Insider. Adding, “And daylight-saving time can exacerbate that.”
Troxel said this adjustment also comes at a time when one out of three Americans don’t get enough sleep as it is. To make matters worse, March is a tough month for couples, especially if they’re in a rocky place, Mary Jo Rapini, a psychotherapist and intimacy and sex expert in Houston, Texas, said.
“In March, the divorce rate is the highest, and some of that may be due to the time change,” Rapini said.
But that doesn’t mean couples will break up come Sunday. Both experts said partners can do a number of things to ensure the time change doesn’t take a toll on their relationships.
A mismatched couple: a night owl and an early bird
Troxel said partners with different sleep rhythms have more conflict and less satisfaction in their relationships, but empathy can help them find harmony.
Troxel said night owls have a particularly hard time adjusting to DST because they’re already struggling to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. While an early bird may be sleep-deprived, a night owl may be even more tired.
Troxel said try not to judge your night owl partner during this time shift, especially because sleep preferences are biologically hardwired.
For a few weeks following DST, Troxel said to postpone hot topic conversations or label your behavior as “slangry”— meaning sleepy and angry — so it doesn’t feel as personal.
Sleep loss may kill sex drive
In a small study, researchers found that married couples with different sleeping schedules had less sex compared to couples on the same schedule. Another study found that sleep loss reduces testosterone levels in men, which may impair sex drive.
Troxel said losing an hour of sleep during DST may impact couples’ sex lives. Couples should be open to sex at other times of the day, not just the evening, especially if you and your partner are early birds.
“The idea that all sex has to happen at night is not necessarily good,” Troxel said.
Rapini said sex is a crucial aspect of a relationship, especially for those who can’t verbally express themselves. “Sex is a way that they reiterate who they are and they show the deepest love to their partner that way.”
While Rapini recognizes that couples may be affected by sleep loss caused by DST, it’s still important to squeeze in sex when you can. “Take advantage of quickies,” she said.
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