Dating With Insomnia
You’ve gone on a few dates with a person, and all the good stuff is happening. Butterflies! Stomach flips when you see their name pop up on your phone! Planning your entire future together even though you don’t even know their middle name! Ok, maybe the last one is just something I do…
You’ve decided to spend the night together, and the panic hits quietly. You might think:
I’m not ever going to fall asleep with this person.
I can’t do my nighttime routine that winds me down.
It’s going to drive me nuts when they fall asleep soundly, and I’m tossing and turning.
I can’t share with them how much trouble insomnia has caused me.
I deeply understand all of these thoughts and feelings. When I was single and dating, my insomnia was at its height. I wasn’t sure how to explain my problem to those that I was dating. I remember one time I actually said, “You can never sleep over.” To someone that I really liked!
Honesty is non-negotiable
Despite how hard it is, I do suggest being honest. You don’t have to share your entire back story or mental health history, but sharing that sleep is something you struggle with, and setting boundaries around it is completely ok. It’s also important to remember that someone worth spending your time with will accept your whole person, and if they’re not understanding or give you trouble for it, they can head back to swiping on Tinder.
Setting boundaries is a struggle, and it can feel like you’re asking for too much. But being clear about what will and won’t work for you is key. For me, in the beginning, that meant no sleepovers. I tried to be as frank, and as kind, as possible. I would say something like, “I would love to spend more time with you, but because I struggle so much with sleep, I won’t be able to spend the whole night tonight. I hope you can understand.”
Eventually, as I got more comfortable with a person, sometimes sleepovers at my place would work because I had more control over my environment. This is also the stage where my date would realize I had no clocks in my house (seriously, I even unset my microwave).
Clocks were a huge trigger for me in the middle of the night, because I was always counting the hours (“Oh no, it’s 3 a.m., I can’t believe I’m not asleep yet!") This is again where honesty & boundaries would come in. I would share why knowing the time could make my insomnia worse, and ask that the person not tell me the time before we went to bed.
Accept and (try to) move on
When you’re dating, some things are going to be out of your control. You might meet a fabulously sweet, smart, and together person – and they might snore. Or work the night shift. Or have a cat that meows for breakfast at 4 a.m. Try to accept those aspects that you can’t control, and that you might have some extra nights of bad sleep. There are definitely some good aspects to the lack of sleep, if ya know what I mean. And eventually, as you get more comfortable, you will be able to find sleep with that special person by your side.
Do you go to bed at the same time every night?