Five Things You Should Never Say to an Insomniac

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

If you know someone who is dealing with insomnia, don’t brush it off or become frustrated with them. Insomnia is a serious condition that can have major impacts on their mental health and physical health.

While it may be hard to understand why someone cannot sleep normally, living with the disorder is even harder. Insomnia can impact all areas of life – from work, to your social life, your family, and even your romantic life.

1. "You should try over the counter sleeping pills"

If someone has insomnia, the chances are generally high they have already tried to treat it with over the counter sleeping medicines. These types of medications and herbs only work on some people and aren’t a cure-all for insomnia.

2. "What’s causing you to have insomnia?"

If someone knew why they had insomnia, they would have already dealt with it, or be taking steps to deal with it. For some, their insomnia still remains a mystery, and many people do not know what the cause of their sleepless nights is. On top of that, the worry over sleep is probably constantly in the foreground, which makes sleep even harder to come by.

3. "If you didn’t worry so much you’d sleep better"

Not all insomnia is caused by worry and anxiety. However, it can produce worry and anxiety. Telling someone 'not to worry' does not cast a spell over them and make their insomnia go away. In fact, it may make them feel even more anxiety because they may feel you are judging them negatively.

4. "You shouldn’t drink caffeine late at night"

Anyone who is dealing with insomnia already knows that caffeine is a no-no when it comes to sleep. They probably have already ruled that substance out of their lives from the late-afternoon on. Telling an insomniac they should their caffeine intake can also make them feel very misunderstood.

5. "If you go to sleep now you can get some good rest"

No insomniac wants to hear that statement. They already have a clock running in their heads. As each hour passes, they remind themselves of how much sleep they could possibly get if they could miraculously fall asleep right then.

How you can helpAll an insomniac wants is to feel understood. They also want reassurance and comfort.

Let them know you are sorry they are having sleeping problems. Offer to go with them to a doctor or a sleep specialist. Keep their minds distracted and soothed when they are having trouble falling asleep. Try to be positive. Praise your insomniac when they do catch some sleep. Above all, just accept them how they are and be there for them.

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free sleep training for insomnia. His course will help you identify the issues that are harming your sleep and teach you how to fix them. Over 3,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 96 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.