You twist and turn every night, trying to get to sleep. Nothing seems to work – and you get more and more stressed. You snap at the kids, snarl at your partner and you can barely get through the day. It is estimated that a lot of the population is prone to insomnia with women more likely to suffer than men.
All sorts of factors can affect our sleep – medical conditions like sleep apnoea, lifestyle issues such as poor diet, or the stress of bereavement, divorce or losing your job. But if insomnia is ruining your life, remember that your family may be suffering too. “However supportive your partner may be, seeing someone at your worst for much of the time is hardly a recipe for a happy domestic life”, says Lynda Brown, author of the Insomniac’s Best Friend: How to get a Better Night’s Sleep. And if you are an insomniac with kids, normal family life might seem impossible at times. How many insomniac mothers chide themselves for being irritable with their children?
Advise about when you eat, what you eat, how you relax, and what you do and don’t do in the evening, all becomes more complicated when there are two or more to consider. But working out how your insomnia impacts on the people you love is just as important as tackling the problem itself.
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Lynda’s tips will make your days more bearable and hopefully good nights will follow. If you are an insomniac: Remember that your partner needs support too. Show your appreciation whenever you can. Don’t let insomnia rule both of your lives. Try to be more relaxed.
“Be nice to yourself and you’ll be nicer to be one. Don’t blame yourself for not sleeping. Tossing and turning, it is usually more disruptive to partners than reading in bed or getting up. Train yourself to lie very still or go into the spare room. Failing that, head for the sofa. Sleeping in separate rooms can be a very touchy issue. Your partner may feel abandoned and you may feel guilty. But if your sleeplessness is getting both of you down, separate rooms may save your relationship.
If your partner is an insomniac: Don’t tell them they had more sleep last night than they realise. It doesn’t help – an insomniac’s reality is the amount they think they’ve slept. Understand that when they have a go at you, it’s not really aimed at you.