If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you have likely noticed that you’re often deprived of sleep. You’re ready to unwind and get a little shut-eye, but before you can get into bed, the narcissist in your life suddenly brings up a topic to argue about. They might even wake you in the middle of the night with some sudden realization about how you’ve done something wrong or hurt them. What’s this all about?
Narcissists use a lot of manipulation tactics to throw you off-guard and keep you in a state of confusion. Sleep deprivation is yet another strategy they use to create confusion in your mind and keep you feeling as though you can’t relax or get away. It’s yet another form of narcissistic abuse.
If you have a narcissist in your life, you need to read on to learn how to prevent particularly damaging manipulation strategies such as sleep deprivation. By denying you a good night’s sleep, the narcissist is hoping to create more confusion so that they can gain more control. Let’s look at why they do it and what you can do to fight back.
Why Narcissists Don’t Want You to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a way that the narcissist in your life can keep you exhausted and thereby create a state of mental confusion and both physical and mental chaos. When you’re exhausted because you haven’t been able to sleep, you can’t think clearly about what they’re doing.
You won’t be as capable of seeing their manipulation strategies and how they’re exercising control over your life. All you can think about is that you’d like to get some sleep. It’s actually considered a form of torture!
Sleep deprivation is used in military interrogations, and aside from the mental confusion it creates, it also causes numerous physical side effects. Let’s look at some of the effects of sleep deprivation and how the narcissist uses them to control you.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
When you’re deprived of sleep, there are a number of ways your mental and physical health are affected. Here are a few of the most serious effects as explained by the National Health System in the UK:
Central Nervous System Effects
The central nervous system includes your brain and associated nerves throughout the body. It’s basically the information highway for your body. Without sleep, that highway can be shut down or blocked at various locations. That makes it harder for you to focus and make decisions. It also makes it easier for a narcissist to gaslight you.
Your immune system is also negatively affected when you’re deprived of sleep. Normally, your body uses sleep to build up the immune system, and so, when you aren’t allowed to sleep, it can’t do that which leaves you more susceptible to illness. The weaker and more ill you are, the easier it is for a narcissist to abuse you.
Sleep deprivation specifically affects the hormones leptin and ghrelin. These control your feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin tells your brain that you’ve eaten enough and ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. When these hormones are out of balance, it’s easier for you to gain weight, and that can affect your self-esteem and make you more susceptible to manipulation.
In sum, sleep deprivation can seriously affect your mental and physical health. When you are having problems with your health, it’s easier for a narcissist to take advantage of the situation to manipulate and control you, and they will most certainly do so.
Do Narcissists Suffer from Sleep Disorders?
In fact, some recent research (conducted at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences Sleep Disorders Center) showed that there was a significant relationship between insomnia and personality disorders, particularly narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.
Anecdotally, many people who have lived for years with narcissists, like Penelope Ann King, relate stories about their narcissistic exes being up at all hours of the night to the extent that, as she says, “He eventually even got me to change my sleep pattern.”
Another study conducted by the University of Sydney found a link between people who are night owls and the so-called Dark Triad personality traits which include narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. It’s little wonder given the incessant need narcissists and others like them feel for exerting control over virtually everything in their lives.
Because of their manipulative tendencies, narcissists are always planning how to respond to perceived wrongs, present-day problems, and possible future threats. Narcissists live in a constant state of fear they will be exposed for the loathsome person they truly believe themselves to be, and that alone could keep them from getting a good night’s sleep.
If you’ve ever been worried that someone will find out something bad that you did, you might be able to imagine how it would feel if you also believed you needed to avenge past perceived mistreatments as well as manage every person in your life to prevent such exposure of what you consider vulnerabilities. That’s the narcissist’s reality.
What Can I Do If a Narcissist Won’t Let Me Sleep?
With a better understanding of the physical and mental effects of sleep deprivation, it’s no wonder it’s considered a form of torture. Given the nature of the mind of a narcissist, it’s also easy to see why they might have trouble sleeping too. If you have a narcissist in your life who won’t let you sleep, it’s important to recognize the effect it can have on your long-term health.
Of course, the easiest solution is to get away, but sometimes that’s not a real possibility. If it’s not, the next best thing you can do is to set firm boundaries regarding your sleep schedule. Let the narcissist know what you need as you begin to wind down and prepare for bed. Get specific in stating your needs and let them know you will enforce these boundaries and how you will do that.
If they don’t respect your needs, you’ll want to walk away from them without further discussion and get somewhere you can relax. You might also need to meditate in order to process the emotions the narcissist has stirred up.
This might even mean leaving the house and going to a friend or family member’s house where you can get some good sleep. Do what it takes because this is important for your health.
Narcissists are unable to empathize with your needs, and that’s why they will take advantage of any situation they can to get what they believe they need. They won’t think about how that affects you. They feel a need to control you and manipulate you, and sleep deprivation is one particularly devastating tactic they use toward that end.
Moreover, narcissists live in a constant state of fear that the ugly truth they believe about themselves will be exposed for all the world to see. That fear keeps them up nights plotting how they can better control you and everyone else in their life.
Sleep deprivation is just one of the manipulation tools in the narcissist’s arsenal. They are also experts at using your own emotional triggers against you. But you don’t have to keep allowing them to do that. My 5 Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers will help you regain control over your own emotional responses and stop narcissistic manipulation forever!
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