9 Ways To Be Supportive When Your Partner Is Struggling With Insomnia

Restful sleep is a pillar of good health. And, although struggling with insomnia might not seem like a huge deal if you haven't lived with it, lack of sleep has the potential to cause quite an upheaval in one's well-being and productivity. 

While there are measures that can be taken to prevent insomnia, like avoiding caffeine, sticking to a bedtime routine, and staying active (via Mayo Clinic), sometimes those precautions just don't cut it.

Your partner's inability to catch some z's (and their lack of energy during the day) has an effect on you too. But, as you likely already know, they would love to get some decent sleep, and if they could, they certainly would. 

Here's how you can support your loved one battling insomnia.

Remember insomnia is a real disorder

If you're the partner of someone facing insomnia night after night, it might take some mental repositioning to think of insomnia as a health condition. In order to be supportive, however, it's crucial to treat your partner's inability to sleep as a true medical concern. The lethargy, moodiness, and anxiety about not being able to sleep are no doubt challenging, but what your partner ultimately needs is to be soothed — and not made to feel as though it's their fault. If you can keep a positive and supportive attitude towards their efforts to overcome insomnia, they'll likely go further in their recovery (via HealthCentral). Be careful not to undermine your partner's health condition and always use gentle sensitivity when discussing sleep.

Create a peaceful sleeping environment

While some of us can fall asleep (and stay asleep) just about anywhere, others need some pretty specific conditions to get a full eight hours in. Blackout curtains, white noise, fresh air through an open window, weighted blankets, guided meditations before bed — there's a lot we can do to encourage solid sleep. And while these likely won't cure insomnia, they could lessen the challenges. According to MedicalNewsToday, taking a hot bath one hour before bed and avoiding all that tempting screen time leading up to sleep, could help insomnia sufferers fall into a healthy slumber as well.

Consider an alternative sleeping arrangement if needed

An undeniable truth of living with a partner struggling with insomnia is that if you aren't getting enough sleep (because your partner rouses you with their waking), then you probably can't be as supportive as you'd like to be. And while it isn't ideal, sleeping in separate rooms until your partner is generally able to sleep through the night might just be what you both need. And this doesn't mean that romance is dead either. "If you do decide to sleep separately, then you have to be more intentional about making time for closeness and even more intentional about making time for intimacy," said Mishay Butler-Ozore, LMFT, a therapist who is based in Southern California, in an interview with SELF.

Choose a mattress recommended for sleep disorders

While the mattress you and your partner are sleeping on likely isn't the underlying cause of insomnia, a mattress designed to help those with sleeping disorders could be a major support. According to MedicalNewsToday, medium-firm mattresses with the option to self-adjust are great for spinal alignment and can aid in better sleep. It may be a bit of an investment, but remember, insomnia is a real health condition and the purchase will likely be worthwhile to all involved.

Encourage their course of treatment

If your loved one is suffering from insomnia and has talked to a healthcare professional about treatment, stepping in and encouraging your partner to follow through with their course of action — whether it's medication, lifestyle changes, or counseling  – can greatly improve the chances of beating sleep issues. It's common for those struggling with insomnia to subsequently experience depression and anxiety. Sometimes, simple care steps like remembering to take prescribed medication can be a lot. So, when a loving partner can jump in with a positive attitude and encourage those changes, real progress is possible (via MedicalNewsToday).

Treat the issue as if your relationship depends on it

This may sound extreme, but as we've already established, healthy sleep is a key component of overall well-being and if one-half of a couple isn't able to get adequate sleep, both parties will experience the aftereffects. "Part of the issue in a marriage is that sleep patterns often track together. If one person is restless or has chronic problems, that can impact the other's sleep. If these problems persist over time, you can get this nasty reverberation within the couple," said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, in an interview with HuffPost. If your partner has insomnia and you value the partnership, the last thing you'll want to do is act as though the condition is theirs to carry alone.

Take on daytime duties

We all know how challenging it can be to complete routine daily chores and responsibilities on little sleep. Whether it's due to a late night out, jetlag, or insomnia — the day after insufficient sleep can feel like a fever dream. So, if your partner has insomnia, it may be necessary to step up on certain days when it comes to household chores. If you have children, taking them out for a couple of hours so your partner can rest will likely benefit the whole family. Or maybe the two of you run a business together and acting as though your partner has called in sick might help you reframe the day's responsibilities. And while it may not be easy to suppress the resentment that might arise, healthy communication (like using "I" statements) will encourage a more open dialogue on the issue (via SELF).

Practice healthy sleep habits with your partner

You would likely show support for a loved one struggling with any health condition through solidarity and this can apply to insomnia too. If your partner is attempting to put down all electronics an hour before bed, limit caffeine intake, and exercise daily (via MedicalNewsToday) to curb the symptoms of insomnia, but you are staying up late in front of the glow of TikTok beside them, then chances are your partner won't feel your support — nor will they be able to fall asleep too easily. Practicing healthy sleeping habits with your partner is a win-win.

Prioritize self-care

Needless to say, the stress of your partner's insomnia will wear on you also. And being a support system for someone struggling with a health condition isn't easy. If you're taking all the right steps to support your partner's sleep issues, but doing so is causing you to lose sight of yourself, it may be time to seek out additional support and make way for you time. Scheduling regular time for your personal passions is important under any circumstances, but when your partner is facing a health condition, it should become even more of a priority (via Wit & Delight). Taking a solo weekend where you can sleep in whichever way is most restful to you for a couple of nights might just feel heaven-sent — and your partner will reap the rewards if you come back refreshed too.