Supporting Someone With Insomnia

If you live with chronic insomnia, it is likely your quality of life is impeded to some degree. As most of us know, the effects of struggling with insomnia likely spew into our relationships. I know for me personally, everything feels off when I have been up all night.

My anxiety is much worse. My chronic pain is exacerbated. My productivity is much lower. My desire to leave the house and be around others (before COVID) diminishes. I am more emotional. I could go on and on.

Communicating with those around us

Because of this, it is helpful when we can communicate what we are going through with our loved ones. While we may get some insensitive comments every now and then, I do believe a lot of the time, our family and friends don’t really know any better. So, as with any chronic condition, they say what they think might be helpful when in reality, it is anything but.

Seeing is believing

I have been with my husband for almost eight years. While he knew I had sleeping issues from the very beginning, he admitted to me numerous times that he had no idea just how bad they were until we started living together six months into our relationship. I would venture to guess that is the case for a lot of relationships (romantic or otherwise). It can be hard to fathom what a person goes through unless they are physically there to see it.

Hard to explain severity

We all know just saying, “I didn’t sleep well and am exhausted” doesn’t do much at work or school. To the majority of bosses, colleagues, and educators, that seems like an excuse. And when you put it as simply as that, I could understand why a person unfamiliar with insomnia may view it as such.

5 ways to support someone with insomnia

  1. Understand that sleep deprivation is serious and not just an excuse to get out of things.
  2. Insomniacs aren’t tired because they stayed out too late partying or didn’t care enough to get into bed at a reasonable time. This is out of our control so please don't blame us.
  3. Insomnia is a medical condition, just like any other. In fact, lack of sleep or quality sleep has the ability to impact every aspect of a person’s physical and emotional health. This means it is actually a serious medical problem that should be treated with compassion, understanding, and love.
  4. If we say or do things that seem out of the ordinary for us, please know we don’t mean to get emotional, impatient, or touchy. Our brains just haven’t had the chance to recharge. A little extra patience (within reason) would go a long way.
  5. Offer to help with chores, errands around the house, or anything else your loved one might need. This sends the message that you understand your loved one isn’t choosing to ignore their to-do list but rather, really can’t muster it up to get stuff done.

Your support makes a difference

In conclusion, those of us who suffer from insomnia know it can sometimes be challenging if you live with us or are around us often. We never want to mitigate the pressure it can put on others. But, when we feel understood, validated, and loved, it is amazing the difference it can make.

Have you found others to be supportive of you? Do you find most people in your life get the struggles you face? In what ways have others support you? In what ways do you wish others would be there for you? Please share in the comments below, and always remember you are not alone!

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