Unable to share a bed and sleep

Q:  I have chronic insomnia and have great difficulty sharing a bed with my partner.  I am very sensitive to noise and movements of any kind.  Even tiny shifts by my partner awaken me.  Then, once up, it’s very hard for me to fall back asleep.  I am paying a steep price for this by constantly feeling tired and fatigued during the day.  Yet on the other hand it’s very important for us both to sleep together, we enjoy and want the intimacy.  What can I do?

A:  Your first priority should be to ensure you are treating the true underlying cause for your unrefreshing sleep and daytime fatigue.  Those are red flags for obstructive sleep apnea.  See a doctor to either treat or rule out this potentially serious condition as a concern.

Second, you should be confident there are effective ways to treat even chronic insomnia that over time will significantly strengthen your sleep system, hopefully to the point where you can sleep with another and not be overly disturbed by the inevitable movements, snoring, etc.

However, don’t be surprised if you doctor cannot find any underlying medical issues causing your insomnia.  In that case, you have what’s known as primary insomnia, which has no identifiable medical basis.  Primary insomnia is actually a very common condition, but fortunately, there are effective non-medical solutions to treat what is essentially a non-medical problem.  The gold standard is cognitive behavioral therapy, specifically designed for insomnia (CBT-I).

CBT-I enables you to get to the most common non-medical root sources for insomnia, which often are some combination of bad sleep habits and excessive worry about the idea of sleep.  By treating the true underlying basis, sleep tends to improve permanently, and without the need for drugs.

Your desire to sleep with your partner is understandable.  However, it’s worth noting a significant number of married couples sleep separately (23% in one survey) largely due to snoring.  And those that do share a bed typically lose at least some sleep because of the disturbance.  So you are hardly alone in experiencing this.

Finally, it is important in a relationship to have someone understanding of your needs and who you are as a person.  Even by improving your sleep using CBT-I or other methods, you likely will still experience some awakenings.  That’s normal and to be expected.  It may be extra challenging in your case, but it’s important to explain your situation to your partner in a way that’s understandable.  Hopefully you will reach an arrangement that works for you both.

Explore posts in the same categories: Insomnia, sleep

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