Discussions By Condition: Sleep disorders

Different sleep lengths in a relationship

Posted In: Sleep disorders 0 Replies
  • Posted By: distill
  • December 7, 2008
  • 03:07 PM

Short version:

My girlfriend needs to sleep more than I. She needs 10-11h. I need 8h. In fact she also can do with only 8-9h, but the thing is she requires 1-2h of laying in the bed before she can fall asleep and she also frequently looses 1-2h of sleep in the middle of the night because she might wake up require two hours before falling asleep again. (Our age is around 28 if it makes difference.)

If she is sleep deprived it will clearly make life more difficult in general. She might have to cancel morning work and generally anxiety levels raise. I might have to wake up in the morning anyway, to work. My primary question is: What should I do in this situation? I definitely don't want to make things worse by demanding her to wake up even if she couldn't sleep enough during the night. On the other hand important things are lost because she is sleeping when she should work and also my situation is challenging because I have to wait 3 hours before we can have breakfast, I have to be silent in the apartment during that time, it is inconvenient.

It would be great to hear if someone else had a similar situation and eventually came up with a solution!

More details:

There are many things that affect the situation. I don't want to make the issue too complicated, because there are probably simple solutions that don't require analyzing everything. However I will explain a bit more, just in case someone did have experience on similar issues.

My girlfriend is very sensitive to sounds before and during sleep. She might wake up because of the neighbor's toilet sound and stay awake for 3h in the middle of the night. She gets upset if I try to talk about the sound hypersensitivity or suggest that she might have it. From my point of view I'm trying to be nice, friendly and helpful but from her point of view I'm sigmatizing her as a hopeless medical/mental case.

My girlfriend has very strong anxiety response especially when even slightly sleep deprived. This seems to be genetical, since her father has similar behavior. She is very sensitive to lack of control. According to her own words, she has never been able to sleep in unfamiliar places. According to her, between 1-2am she's not able to fall asleep because at that time it is probable that she goes into "overdrive mode". If I have rare, important work deadline the next day and have to work late, she doesn't want to go to sleep alone because she can't fall asleep anyway.

She has always had a vivid imagination and lots of thoughts just before going to sleep. In other words, it seems that she does not get sleepy at bed time regardless of how tired or exhausted she is. If there are little noises (neighbors, cars, rain), that may trigger anxiety, which results in strong "unsleepyness" and thought activity.

We love eachother and are willing to work hard to make things better. Perhaps there are simple ideas that would make things easier without completely letting the sleeping issue to dominate life and make things unreasonably challenging.

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