When relationship problems cause insomnia

     Q:  “I am losing sleep over terrible relationship problems in my family.  My wife can barely speak to our children without losing her temper.  Our children stay away from home as much as possible to avoid the stress.  I try to support everyone but feel powerless.  Now with the holidays approaching I worry about embarrassment in front of friends and family.  My sleep is terrible as I lay awake for hours worried about this.  What can I do?”

It’s good that you understand why you are having trouble sleeping.  You have made the connection between insomnia and the increased levels of stress in your life resulting from difficult family relationships.  Insomnia is not some inherent defect, it’s the increased stress from external situations you can’t control.

Many of us from time to time are in similar situations.  The good news is short term insomnia often resolves itself as the underlying problem either improves over time or it fades away as we adjust.  But in the meantime, what can you do to help yourself get some sleep?

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and try to view your situation objectively.  Wanting to help someone and not being able to can be frustrating, no doubt.   But realistically, we can only take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions, never for another’s.

On an individual level, what we can do is try our best, within reasonable limits, to help others mend fractious relationships, if they are willing, and maybe there’s some consolation in that for you.

It might make you feel better to take some action, to try to do something proactive to help smooth over these difficult relationships.  Maybe try to be a peacemaker a little bit.  Even if it doesn’t work, you can still take some meager satisfaction in just the act of trying, in giving it your best effort.  Just doing something positive might help take the edge off your stress levels a little bit and that may help you sleep better.

In addition, you can do what you can to control your lifestyle and environment to help ensure the best possible sleep.  For instance, you can pamper yourself a little to help reduce stress.  Schedule yourself a quiet relaxing downtime before bed to help prepare your mind and body for sleep, and try to tune out any household fighting during this time.  Getting daily exercise is important for good sleep, as is having a consistent sleep-wake schedule.  And for someone in your situation, trying to find a positive social support network wherever you can will no doubt help.

If you find your sleep does not improve over a period of several weeks, consider looking into cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) specifically designed for insomnia.  A good CBT-based sleep training program will help you control what you can to help ensure the best sleep possible.  Such programs are readily available online, and are safe, effective, affordable, and entirely drug-free.

No, the situation won’t be perfect, but what is?  At one point or anther we all have some sort of relationship difficulties.  Realistically, all any of us can do is just try to deal with it the best we can.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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