Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 20 years, and we have three children under 15. He has always been a bit of a night owl, but now, in his mid-50s, he’s turning into my 80-year-old father.
My husband works from 8 a.m. until 5, comes home and eats dinner and then sits on the couch. He falls asleep watching TV and then isn’t tired again until midnight. He goes to bed and wakes up at 4 a.m. and can’t fall asleep again, so he turns on the TV, falls asleep and is up at 7 a.m. for the day.
I don’t resent him for not helping in the evenings with chores and children, but, Annie, he sleeps when the kids are awake and home from school, and they rarely get a chance to have quality time together. The biggest problem is when we go on vacation. He’ll skip the naps for a day or two and then turn into a big, bad bear. He is crabby with everyone. Of course, he cannot see that this is because of his sleep patterns and blames us for making him angry.
I believe if he went to bed at 11 p.m. and woke up at 7 a.m., he would get the full eight hours he needs and would be awake when the rest of us are. He won’t entertain any of my suggestions, and it makes him angry even to talk about it. It’s almost as if he is cheating on me with the TV. I am raising the kids alone and feel like I am married to my father. – Help
Dear Help: It sounds as though your husband has a sleep disorder. He is tired when he gets home because he doesn’t sleep sufficiently at night. So he naps. The nap tides him over until midnight, but because he’s already slept a couple of hours, he isn’t tired enough to sleep the rest of the night. It has become a vicious cycle that he doesn’t know how to change. He may even have sleep apnea that interferes with his rest at night. Please approach this like the medical issue it is. Suggest he speak to his doctor and get a referral to a sleep clinic.
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