Humor – Living with an insomniac

Dorothy-RosbyDo you live with a grump? A grouch? An ill-tempered crank? I can relate. Not to YOU! To the grumpy, grouchy, ill-tempered crank. While not all unpleasant people can blame their demeanor on sleep problems, I can. Or, at least, I do.

Insomnia is a major cause of irritability and unfriendliness. In fact, a review of beauty pageant history will reveal that no insomniac has ever won a Miss Congeniality contest.

If you have the misfortune of living with one–an insomniac, not a Miss Congeniality – I’m sure you realize that under that weary, irritable exterior lies a kind, ambitious person with above average intelligence and creativity. What do you mean, you didn’t realize that?

You must know that the only thing standing between your insomniac and brilliant success in all areas of his or her life is a good night’s sleep. Fortunately there are ways you can help the insomniac you love (or USED to love). And I’m sure you realize by now that it would be in your best interest to do so, so pay attention.

DON’T ever tell an insomniac that emotional problems, a guilty conscience, or an inability to stop worrying are causing his sleep disorder. He may punch you, and for good reason. DO remember that insomnia is not a character flaw and you are not a better person because you sleep well, though you may be a nicer person because you sleep well. What you are is lucky and well rested, and frankly you should be carrying a lot more of the workload in your home.

DO consider what part you may be playing in keeping your insomniac awake. While she lies awake and you sleep, do you snore? Cough? BREATHE?

If you happen to be awake when she finally does fall asleep, do you practice your electric guitar, repair the roof, or do aerobics on the hardwood floor? Or do you do the right thing: read quietly in another room of the house so she doesn’t hear you turning the pages. Better yet, go read quietly at the neighbor’s house. And DON’T slam the door on your way out.

The point is, DO NOT, under any circumstance, wake a sleeping insomniac. It can be very dangerous—for YOU.

DO NOT share your advice for better sleep. Don’t you think we know all about caffeine, dark rooms and comfortable beds? Sleeping is a lot like dieting; knowing how to do it does not ensure success.

DO NOT expect more from your insomniac than he or she can give. While it is true that at 2 a.m. we have many good ideas and boundless energy, it is simply not a good time to build a deck or vacuum the living room. And, we’re too tired to do anything at all during the day. You, on the other hand, have plenty of energy and you have it at socially acceptable times. Why not spend your days doing all the chores your insomniac dreamed up last night—unless we’re napping.

DO be understanding. We cannot be held responsible for being irritable now and then (every day, all day long). If you were us, you’d be irritable too. You should pamper us, do our bidding, and cater to our every whim . . . if you know what’s good for you.

DO NOT tease us if we nap or doze off at inappropriate times. Remember, we are often wide-awake when you are sound asleep—and, I might add, VULNERABLE.

Finally, if you have the misfortune of being married to an insomniac, DO remember you DID say “for better or for worse.”

(You can contact Dorothy Rosby at

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