People all over the country will be tossing and turning, struggling to get the sleep they need tonight.  A new study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior indicates that the reason many of these people can’t fall asleep is not an undiagnosed sleep disorder or an uncomfortable sleep environment.  They are struggling to get the sleep they need because of turmoil in their family.

Using information from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, the research team looked at the affect family relationships have on sleep habits, patterns, and problems.  They found that family struggles can contribute to sleep-related issues.

In some cases, it is the family relationships themselves that are causing the problem.  People who don’t feel supported in their primary relationship are more prone to depression and anxiety disorders than their peers.  Both of these conditions can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get the sleep needed to be healthy both mentally and physically.

It isn’t just interpersonal relationships that cause sleepless nights.  Certain family dynamics can lead to sleep deprivation simply because of time constraints.  Single parents, new parents, those with chronically ill family members, and shift workers also suffer from sleep deprivation because meeting the needs of their family doesn’t leave enough time for them to get the sleep they need.

The study also found that family members do not need to be present, near, or even in the same state as you are to keep you from sleeping.  If you have an argument with your mother who lives on the other side of the country, it can have a serious impact on the amount of sleep you get that night and any night after until you are able to move past the argument.

On the flip side, being away from family members can also steal your sleep.  Parents who are away from their children, husbands away from their wives, or any family member who is away from the family unit can find themselves unable to sleep, waking up several times over the course of the night, and waking up tired.

Unfortunately, those who are struggling with sleep because of family factors, being overtired often only makes things worse.  According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 73% of people report that sleep deprivation impacts their mood and 42% report that it impacts their family relationships.  If family problems are the cause of the sleep deprivation and being sleep deprived impacts those relationships, it can be difficult to get out of this spiral.

So what can you do if you find yourself tossing and turning because of family drama?

1.     Stick to a Schedule

Following the same schedule every night can really make a difference in helping you get the sleep you need at night.  Although it may be difficult to do this depending on the family situation you are dealing with, it is one of the best things you can do to overcome sleep deprivation.

2.     Find Support

Many people who find that they are suffering through many sleepless nights can’t sleep because they lack a healthy outlet for discharging emotions and don’t have enough support.  In this circumstance, finding a therapist, support group, or even just a good friend who can listen and be supportive can make all the difference.


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