"sabotaging" partner's sleep, but I'm just trying to follow his good habits!

Hi all,

Wondering how to deal with this problem.  My partner prioritizes sleep above all else.  When he doesn't get enough (most of the time, sadly), he is grumpy and hair-trigger all day long.  The problem is this: I really WANT to get to sleep at the same time as him.  I don't have any issues with falling asleep or staying asleep, which is a mercy!



1) We work in the same office, so it makes sense to get to sleep together.  Then we can get up, leave the house, get to work, and leave the office at roughly the same time so we are home around the same time for dinner.  

2) It's just smart!  I have read it 1,000,000,000,734,183 times, it's so helpful for ADDers to get enough sleep.  And I totally feel the difference between sleeping enough and not sleeping enough.  But it's so hard, as y'all know, to put stuff aside on time for bed.  So I try to "anchor" myself to his good habits/intentions.  Then end up dragging his bedtime back by half an hour.

3) I like having time to be close before we fall asleep.  We still have great chemistry in bed (counting my blessings, I do know others have issues with this).  So I want to keep that time for connecting with him.



I try to get up about 15 minutes before him because I take longer to get ready than he does... but he wakes up to my alarm and doesn't get back to sleep for the next 15 minutes.  Just changed my alarm tone tonight, we'll see if that goes better tomorrow morning.

When I come to bed a bit late and hope to still have some connection time (see point 3), often enough he's fed up of waiting for me and needs to hash through his upset before he can go to sleep.  By the time he's calm, it's already later than we wanted to go to sleep.  So I'd prefer to go to sleep right away and still get maximum sleep time.  

If I come in before he's totally 100% fallen asleep, he'll wake up again when I get into bed, and not be able to fall asleep for another 20-30 minutes.  If he thinks I'm coming to bed soon, he is reluctant to try falling asleep, because it's likely I will interrupt him as described.  

Oh and PS, of course I'm actually a typical ADD night-owl, I have my most productive period starting around 4:30-5:30 PM.  So yes, I am denying my nature to try and fit in.  Figure it's easier than finding a job and recalibrating my entire home life to support a radically different schedule.  And I've decided that starting tomorrow, I will try to do the most interesting stuff at the lowest focus time at work, hoping I can find some hyperfocus there.  (Today I spent 8 hours at work, but spent 20 minutes doing work.  Also rolling myself in guilt for that one.)



I like Melissa's suggestion of sacred time, before his bedtime, after which I can return to whatever I'm doing... but I'm afraid if I do that, I'll go to bed at 2am every day, have to wake up at 7:30, and spend my life chronically exhausted.  When he goes on business trips for 5-7 days, this is how it happens.  And when I don't get enough sleep, I get sick for 2 weeks at a time.

Last night after another accusation that he can't control what time he gets to sleep or what time he wakes up, even though sleep is his 1st priority... I had a suggestion.  I "outed" my little game to him, the one where I challenge myself to be ready before he is.  Usually it's in the morning, having the coat and shoes and purse on before him.  It sucked that he never acknowledged how great it was to get out the door without a single snag, on time, etc - so different from the norm.  But I gave myself a little high-five every time.  Anyway, I told him I would make it a challenge for myself to be ready for bed before he is - and if I am not 100% ready 5 minutes before bedtime, I take my things out of the bedroom (phone charger, nighttime lip gloss, etc) and - according to MY RULES (to be clear that he isn't barring me from the bed, he would HATE that) - am not allowed to come in.  I haven't figured out if that means for the whole night (we have a guest room that I can sleep in) or rather until I am 30sec away from tucking myself in and drifting off.  


I just wanted to know if anyone else had the problem that they REALLY REALLY WANT to get enough sleep, just like their partner with good habits, but the ADD symptoms got in the way of the partner's sleep too?  And whether you have found a way to get through it?  I think it totally sucks that my coping strategy for mornings (sacrifice 15min of sleep so I can be ready at the same time he is) has also interfered with his sleep.  What he says is true.  My habits are sabotaging his sleep, making him crankier, and perpetuating the negative cycle.  I just want to make it better for both of us.  Any thoughts?

Cranky Bear

Hi frankcesca,

This sounds sooooooooo familiar in some respects.  My husband also requires more sleep than me, is ridiculously sensitive to noise, and wakes up at the drop of a hat.  I, for my part, have to skulk around the house after he goes to bed or face his wrath.  Lately, I have been a bit loud, according to him.  Now, to be fair, my own mother used to tell me I sound like a herd of elephants when I walk because of my gait.  Consequently, I often go to bed at the same time as him.   I also get up about 30 minutes earlier.  I have more to do in the morning than him, including walking my dog in the morning and trying to get our ADHD son out of bed and out the door.  My alarm clock, he had told me, was waking him up because it was a bit obnoxious, so for a while, he pressured me into getting up with him, but I finally told him I couldn't get to work on time.   We do have a white noise machine to tune out the sounds in the house and it does help.  I highly recommend it.  What specifically is waking him up?  The alarm clock, you, or knowing the alarm clock is a 15 minute warning bell, alerting him that the end of hibernation is near ;)?  



Stress keeps him from getting back to sleep, I think.  He wakes up with my alarm clock and ruminates about all the stuff he has to do and all the stuff that hasn't gotten done yet.  And he waits for me to say or do something (just read Melissa's post about the non-ADDer not always wanting to be the proactive partner, am trying trying trying to get on that wagon).  He also said the ringtone of my last alarm was so disruptive that he couldn't get back to sleep after that.  So tomorrow we'll see how it goes with a different alarm tone.  And he gets upset when I, trying to be un-disruptive, don't say a word like "good morning" before I sneak to the shower.  Another assumption turned on its head.

Anyway, I think there is a LOT of background stress that is making everything worse lately.  We just moved continents a month and a half ago, and left 75% of our furniture behind including closets and bookshelves.  Our bedframe was just delivered yesterday, and our bedroom closet will take until the end of March.  Without these constants in place it can definitely be harder than normal.  I know I feel un-grounded and not yet settled.

My man is a funny one because he spends his whole time trying not to inconvenience me, and this seems really unfair considering how many inconveniences I throw on him.  Like this morning.  Last night, we agreed I'd get up 15 min before him, as usual, then we got to bed late and I decided to set my alarm to the same time as his without telling him.  He woke up before his alarm for unknown reasons, but didn't want to go start showering because he expected I'd wake up any minute, and I usually shower first.  So he sat around and felt powerless and got frustrated.  Story of our life... yes, we are seeking a therapist... and don't get me started on how, until 2 months ago, he was thinking everything I said I'd do was an ironclad promise.  So if I said "I'll do the dishes," for him it meant "I promise to do the dishes" while for me it was, "I plan to do the dishes."  We've been together almost 5 years and that only came out a few months ago.  No wonder he can feel so let down, if every time I didn't follow through he considered me to be breaking a promise!  

I think he would be closed-minded to a white noise machine... I have a cheap ol' humidifier I use when I get sick, which just boils water with a filament all night, and that's white noise for me but he hates it.  Could be a horse of a different color with a real white noise machine, though.  I have a decently quiet tread, while he is the stomper, but yeah, he is sensitive to noise so when I come in & rustle around with my lip gloss, cuticle butter, clothes, laundry basket, etc, etc, etc, then I fidget a bit in bed before falling asleep, it can all add up.  What's ironic is that he can fall asleep when the neighbors have earsplitting music on while I just get sooooo worked up.  He also has no problem getting back to sleep if I snore when I'm sick.  With the tables turned, I toss and turn, nudge him, and FUME!!!

You say you go to bed at the same time as him.  BUT HOW DO YOU DO IT?!? ;)