Caucasian women who are happily married may have a lower risk of sleep problems than those who are not, according to new research. Additionally, marital problems may increase the likelihood of sleep problems.

Wendy M. Troxel, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, presented her study at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Troxel’s study focused on 1,938 married women from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation: a multisite study of mid-life women of an average 46 years. Subjects reported on their sleep quality, frequency, and problems, in addition to reporting on their marital happiness.

Results showed that higher levels of marital happiness were associated with less difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, fewer early morning awakenings, and more restful sleep as compared to unhappily married women. However, this was true only for Caucasian women.

“Divorced individuals tend to have more sleep problems than those who are married; however, among the married, we know very little about how differences in marital quality may be linked with sleep,” says Troxel. “The present results show that happily married women have fewer sleep problems than unhappily married women.”