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J Sex Marital Ther. 2011;37(5):428-40. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2011.607053.

Perception of partner sleep and mood: postpartum couples' relationship satisfaction.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Separate research areas indicate that sleep quality, mood, and relationship satisfaction decline among couples during the postpartum period. Furthermore, accurate partner perceptions are associated with positive relationship qualities. In this study, 21 first-time postpartum mother-father dyads, contributed 1 week of continuous wrist actigraphy along with concurrent subjective Palm Pilot monitoring to provide objective and subjective sleep measures. Parents also reported on their own as well as their perception of their partners' sleep, mood, and relationship satisfaction. Greater objectively measured total sleep time was associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Mothers (a) underestimated fathers' self-reported frequency of nocturnal awakenings, as well as (b) relationship satisfaction, and (c) overestimated fathers' self-reported sleep quality. Fathers (a) underestimated mothers' self-reported duration of wake at night, as well as (b) sleep quality, and (c) overestimated mothers' self-reported mood disturbance. Preventative measures that target sleep and improvement in perception of partner's experiences could be used to buffer against decreases in relationship satisfaction among new parents.

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