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What Not to Say to an Insomniac

We all put a foot in our mouths at some point or another. Most of us have made the mistake of saying “Yes, ma’am,” when we meant to say “Yes, sir.” It’s quite possible you are 1 of the many who has made the grave error of asking someone how old their grandchild is only to find out they are actually the child’s mother or father. You may have been the unfortunate soul at the church potluck who advises the next person in line to skip the potato salad to quickly discover she is the 1 who brought it. The same holds true for what not to say to an insomniac.

We have all had our share of moments like these. They aren’t fun, and it is difficult to recover from them.

Avoiding your 'foot in the mouth'

I am going to help you skirt an incredibly uncomfortable situation and keep your foot out of your mouth when it comes to talking to your friends and family who suffer from insomnia. As with any condition, people with insomnia have certain triggers and comments that can set them off, or at the very least, generate some serious stink-eye in your direction. We are short on sleep, and many of us can be short on patience.

What not to say to an insomniac

You will want to do everything in your power to step lightly around the following 5 comments/questions. Here are my suggestions for what not to say to an insomniac:

1. Why don’t you just go to bed earlier?

Don’t you think we have tried this? This was probably the first thing on our long and exhausting list of “remedies.”

2. You look tired.

I don’t mean to come across as disrespectful here, but we do own mirrors, y’all. We are painfully aware of the swollen bags under our eyes and our disheveled appearances. We don’t look tired, we are tired.

3. Have you tried medication?

We don’t all want to take a pill to sleep. For many of us, there is no guarantee that medication will work at all or even for very long before our bodies become accustomed to it. Some of us would like to find natural ways to fight this beast.

4. Try exercising more.

Those are fighting words. Not every person with insomnia exercises. Some of us get enough steps in our day-to-day jobs, and we don’t exercise regularly. Others work out on a regular basis, eat right, and drink nothing but water and still suffer from the effects of insomnia.

Exercising more isn’t really a cure.

5. Maybe it’s something you ate.

(Insert eye-roll here.) There is no doubt in my mind that each and every 1 of us who fights the battle with falling asleep and staying asleep has gone through all of our regular foods and questioned their effect on our sleep. If we could find the magical food that would send us off to dreamland for 8 hours each night, we would certainly buy stock in it.

Be careful what you say

As with anything, choose your words carefully when dealing with your sleep-deprived friends. We are tired. We don’t know what else to try. And, we are sometimes very fragile.

Be there for us, but measure your words for their helpfulness before you toss them our way.

Can you relate? Please share with us what comments to avoid when speaking with someone who experiences insomnia.

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