Is your toxic relationship affecting your sleep?

The focus on sleep continues to grow. Whether you see it reported in the press, on TV or in a social media post, the message is clear – sleep is extremely important. Sleep is a dynamic activity that we need, to sustain our daily functioning and our physical and mental health. The quality of your sleep affects how you feel about yourself, how you make choices, and how you interact with others.


It can be influenced by your biology, how you take care of yourself and your relationships with others. With so many pieces to the sleep puzzle, keeping your sleep healthy is not always easy. And that’s without being in a toxic relationship where you are undermined and constantly feeling the need to defend yourself.   


What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship occurs when one or both people are prioritizing love over the three core components of a healthy relationship: respect, trust, and affection.


“If it is destroying you, it is not love.” Anonymous


3 Signs of a toxic relationship


1. There is competition and conflict in a toxic relationship

Do you feel as if you are always trying to prove something to that person? Or maybe you feel that they need to be in control of you to be okay? In a toxic relationship competition and conflict exist because of one or both people in the relationship trying to control the other.


If you feel that your partner or friend is trying to control you, or if you feel they need your control to succeed, then this is not a healthy dynamic. Both people in a healthy relationship should function on their own and come together to be better. So, if this isn't true for your relationship, it might be toxic.


2. Jealousy and blame exists in a toxic relationship

One of the major aspects of a toxic relationship is there will be lots of jealously and blame. One person will constantly be jealous of what the other is doing or achieving, and they will blame that person for their negative feelings. This can, in turn, make both of you unhappy.


When you are with someone in a romantic relationship, you should trust each other enough that jealousy shouldn't be a problem. You should also be confident in knowing your partner loves you and not someone else. So, if you are the one feeling lots of jealousy in your relationship, then this could be a sign of a bad relationship. Think long and hard if it is a toxic one.


3. People in toxic relationships are always fighting

Are you and your significant other always at each other's throats? Then the relationship is toxic. While all relationships have disagreements from time to time, you should be able to resolve these disagreements and move on. If you find that you can't seem to resolve anything between the two of you without one of you compromising, then it's time to consider letting the relationship go. If compromise is the solution to conflict and it’s the same person compromising each time, let the toxic relationship go because it won’t be getting better anytime soon.


Couples who are able to resolve their conflicts without adopting a winning or losing attitude, and are able to find a better way for both, are more likely to be in a healthy relationship.


How does a toxic relationship affect your sleep?

It can be hard to to believe that you would choose to be in a toxic relationship in the first place, let alone that it could affect your sleep. However healthy sleep is the result of the need to sleep, ability to sleep and opportunity to sleep coming together at the same time. Toxic relationships can impact all three of these depending on the nature of the toxic relationship. 


You wouldn’t be the first to not notice you’re in a toxic relationship. Most relationships start out with a lot of promise and most toxic relationships are no different. Often the changes are gradual and when you’re in it, it can be hard to recognise. However, if the quality of your relationship has slowly declined and it leaves you feeling drained, anxious, alone, controlled, jealous or small, it is possible that you are in a toxic relationship.


Here are 3 sleep signs to look out for:

Changes in sleep schedule

One of the most obvious effects to your friends and family is a decline in your self-esteem which you may be slow to notice. You can recognise it by your constant questioning of yourself and your change in demeanour in their presence. Often you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Or that you need to be someone else when they’re around. Over time you may even stop asking for what you need to be happy or healthy. You may find that you relinquish your daily routine needs, including your sleep schedule, so that their needs continue to be met.


Sleeping and waking tired

It is exhausting protecting yourself in a toxic relationship. The emotional and physical strain after a while will start to take its toll. Initially you may find your energy levels are all over the place only to level out at exhausted all the time. Restorative sleep in this phase can be challenging and it can lead to prolonged shallow sleeping. Shallow sleeping is when you are unable to enjoy the benefits of deep sleep and as a result you wake up feeling tired and allowing more time to sleep doesn’t fix it.  


Wired and tired

Stress is one of the biggest contributors to sleeplessness. It’s no secret that with a healthy night’s sleep our resilience and emotional regulation is fortified daily. When we experience our relationship as a constant stressor, our body is flooded with the stress hormone cortisol in an effort to protect us. This makes it very hard to fall asleep let alone stay asleep and sleep well.


How to turn a toxic relationship into a healthy relationship

Toxic relationships rarely get better on their own. If you are both up for the challenge, it is possible to turn your relationship into a healthy one.

Here are 3 things you both need to agree to.   

1. Willing to make changes. This isn’t the case in every couple. In some couples one person is very happy with the stats quo.

2. Recognise the need to and agree to demonstrate respect, trust, and affection in a different way for the relationship to be healthy.

3. Start communicating in a healthy way without judgement and blaming.


However if both of you are unable to sign up to these 3 things then it’s probably time to let the relationship go and get your sleep back on track!


If you aren’t sure if you are in a toxic relationship and your sleep is sub-optimal, it is worth investigating. Book in a confidential call with me and we can explore together whether you are in a toxic relationship and if that is contributing to your poor sleep experience.


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