50 to 70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. The implications of a sleep disorder on the overall health of persons battling one is far-reaching. But one area that is not considered much is how the consistently poor quality of one partner’s sleep can affect the relationship. Leading scientists attest to the fact that relationship distress can arise from sleep problems. In essence, a bad night is not simply a bad night; it results in a bad day too and affects how we relate with everyone around us, of course, including a person’s significant other.
If you love someone, you always want to ensure their well-being. It is bad enough if someone is battling a sleeping disorder; what’s worse is when the person you love doesn’t support you through it. That will definitely drive the relationship to the ground.
To support your partner who has trouble sleeping and help them fix the problem, these are the steps you can take:
- Probe the problem and seek a solution together.
- Help them optimize their bedtime routine for proper winding down.
- Discuss the necessary changes they must make and support them through recovery.
- Contact a professional counselor/therapist on how to keep your relationship flourishing despite current challenges.
- Always reassure, encourage, and motivate them.
Probe the Problem Together
The apparent first step is to determine why your partner can’t sleep well. Mind you, your partner may not even realize it yet (for instance, in the case of snoring, which may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea).
Some sleeping issues might have simple, obvious causes, such as stress and irregular sleep schedules, and the use of medications or electronic devices. Others may be more serious and require a visit to a physician.
The point here is to do it together. If your partner can’t sleep well, best believe that you would be affected too, directly or indirectly, and the relationship may suffer as a result. In seeking a solution, you must approach the problem together with your partner.
Help them Create a Wind Down Routine
Many sleeping problems can be solved when people change their approach to sleep. The truth is that many people don’t take sleeping seriously, perhaps because of the enormity of work and responsibilities. For most of those in this category, if your partner is one, an optimized wind-down routine may be all they need to improve the quality of their sleep.
Simple actions such as the following might help your partner sleep better:
- Dimming the lights as bedtime approaches.
- Sleeping at the same time every day.
- Planning the next day’s work the night before can help relieve anxiety.
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol hours before bed.
- Relaxing your muscles and mind with light exercise or some mindfulness practice just before bed.
Engage in these activities with your partner. Remember that you don’t want your partner to feel left alone as they work through the problem.
Discuss Necessary Lifestyle Changes
Maybe your partner’s challenge is one that needs them to make significant lifestyle changes beyond having a bedtime schedule. It is wise to discuss these changes ahead, especially when they will affect you directly, such as getting a new mattress. Be open if some of these changes are unconventional, even though temporary, such as having to sleep on different beds.
It is not enough to discuss these changes alone; be willing to play a role in fulfilling them, for instance, when your partner has to overhaul their diet.
Seek Counseling with Them
It is very important to know when external help is needed. Sleeping difficulties on the part of one partner can have far-reaching effects on the relationship, to the extent that professional help is necessary to regain your relationship.
When this happens, go visit a therapist with them. Even if the relationship has been going smoothly despite the challenge, your partner’s road to recovery will inevitably include responsibilities on your part, as mentioned above.
Encourage them until it’s Over
While your partner strives to overcome their sleeping disorder, you must remain very patient, as these problems can be very persistent. Therefore, don’t assume that your partner simply isn’t trying hard enough, a mistake that many partners make, particularly when recovery is taking so long.
Research shows that poor sleep is associated with greater marital aggression and less self-control, regardless of factors such as gender, the presence of children, gender, or the length of the marriage. Your relationship shouldn’t fail just because your partner has difficulties sleeping properly. At all times, demonstrate understanding and empathy. Reassuring them consistently motivates them greatly.
The keyword amidst all these is ‘together’. Leaving your partner to their problems, especially when they don’t affect you directly, is one way to kill a relationship. Instead, focus on thriving despite the current challenges. Support your partner through whatever step they have to take unto recovery and be understanding always.