We examined longitudinal relations between interpartner constructive (negotiation) and destructive (psychological and physical aggression) conflict strategies and couples' sleep over 1 year. Toward explicating processes of effects, we assessed the intervening role of internalizing symptoms in associations between conflict tactics and couples' sleep. Participants were 135 cohabiting couples (M age = 37 years for women and 39 years for men). The sample included a large representation of couples exposed to economic adversity. Further, 68% were European American and the remainder were primarily African American. At Time 1 (T1), couples reported on their conflict and their mental health (depression, anxiety). At T1 and Time 2, sleep was examined objectively with actigraphs for 7 nights. Three sleep parameters were derived: efficiency, minutes, and latency. Actor-partner interdependence models indicated that husbands' use of constructive conflict forecasted increases in their own sleep efficiency as well as their own and their wives' sleep duration over time. Actor and partner effects emerged, and husbands' and wives' use of destructive conflict strategies generally predicted worsening of some sleep parameters over time. Several mediation and intervening effects were observed for destructive conflict strategies. Some of these relations reveal that destructive conflict is associated with internalizing symptoms, which in turn are associated with some sleep parameters longitudinally. These findings build on a small, albeit growing, literature linking sleep with marital functioning, and illustrate that consideration of relationship processes including constructive conflict holds promise for gaining a better understanding of factors that influence the sleep of men and women.
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© 2015 American Psychological Association.