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Partner has different personality when woken in morning... starting to really bother me.

(152 Posts)

Ok, my partner and I have been together for just over a year, not living together, although he regularly stays over and me and my son both adore him. The problem is his attitude/behaviour when he wakes up. In normal, everyday life, he is the most kind, sweet, generous, gentle and loving man I've ever known. He has been my rock through a hellish year and is an excellent role model for my son. We were friends for years before deciding to take things further, and I've never been happier.

However, when he wakes up in the morning, he becomes a totally different person. A bit of background - he had insomnia for quite a long time and still has very unusual sleeping habits. He struggles to sleep. He has worked irregular shifts for many years, so has never developed a good routine. He's recently been offered a new job which offers slightly more usual hours, so he's trying to gradually train himself to wake up earlier. Anything before 10 is very early to him. It takes a very, very long time for him to wake up. He is unable to speak and doesn't have any memory of what's happened. On the few occasions I've made him get up, he has behaved very aggressively and it's taken at least ten minutes for him to respond and move. He sometimes falls over when he gets up and seems totally disorientated. I, on the other hand, love getting up early and getting things done, so I usually just leave him to get on with it.

There are three incidents in particular which are bothering me.
1 - I felt unwell and asked him to get up in the night as my son was crying. He was unresponsive and seemed totally uncaring, so i shook him to try and get a response. He then elbowed me twice in the stomach before storming out of the house. He only vaguely remembers this happening, but said that he thought I'd hit him when I touched him.
2 - Earlier this week, I was struggling to get my son ready for school. I suffer with depression and had an uncharacteristically bad morning after my son's (useless) father told me I'm a terrible parent. I was upset, so went upstairs and asked for help. He very angrily got up and went to the toilet. While he was in there, I lay on the bed because I was crying. He came back in and grabbed me by the wrist and ankle, telling me that I couldn't ask him to get up and then go back to bed. I was crying on and off for a little while. I discussed his with him yesterday and he didn't even realise that I was crying. It's like he's no longer human...
3 - This morning, his alarm went off at 8.30am, which is the time he's been trying to get out of bed. My son was happily sort of bouncing all over him, trying to get him up. He got angry and shoved him. It looked as though he meant to push him onto the bed because he was hurting him, but his hand caught him quite hard. I made him apologise and then took my son to school. When I came back, he was getting his stuff together to leave. I briefly discussed this with him and asked whether he remembered it. He said that he only had a vague memory of it, apologised and seemed very withdrawn and ashamed.

As he was leaving, I told him that he either sorts himself out or won't be staying overnight again as I wont have anybody treat us that way. He said that he understood and left.

I know it sounds as though I'm making a big deal of nothing, but it is so out of character for him and I don't really know what to do about it. It's as though he's still in a state of semi-consciousness for a long time after waking. Any advice?

unclefluffy Fri 25-Jan-13 12:38:28

Sounds like he needs to see a doctor. Does he take sleeping tablets? They can cause disordered waking.

And if he won't see a doc, or if it can't be sorted, perhaps he shouldn't stay over, as you say. You can't take the risk that he will accidentally hurt you or your son.

unclefluffy Fri 25-Jan-13 12:39:11

Sorry you're having a rough time, by the way. It sounds like you're doing a good job for your little boy.

Thumbwitch Fri 25-Jan-13 12:39:59

Doesn't sound normal - I mean, I'm not a morning person (MASSIVE understatement) and I wouldn't do those things. Nor would I only have a vague recollection of having done anything. Not that I'm a perfect barometer of what's normal, don't get me wrong!

DH, otoh, IS a morning person. BUT if you wake him in the middle of the night he can be quite an arse as well - not violent but bloody rude, and he doesn't know he's doing it at the time but does at least have a recollection of it the next day. He does really badly on insufficient sleep - maybe your DP has the same problem and has to learn to manage it better?
Perhaps he should consider going to his GP about the insomnia and mention the out-of-character gittishness at the same time? Sleep deprivation can cause character changes but I'm not sure that necessarily applies here.

Dahlen Fri 25-Jan-13 12:43:12

The only advice I can give you is to do what you've already done - tell him he can't stay over until he's got this under control. And stick with it until he has.

This could be anything from a complex medical problem to an abuser testing your boundaries. It's impossible to know and not that easy to find out either, as 12 months is a relatively short relationship.

However, what he does from this point on will speak volumes. If he accepts responsibility and on his own volition makes an appointment with a GP to get a sleep-specialist referral, then it's probably a medical condition and there's hope. If he doesn't, then he either doesn't value you enough to bother, or he's really an abuser.

What you need to think about is what you're going to do if it is a real condition but not one that can be successfully treated. While it's not his fault, your first duty has to be to protect your son (and yourself) from any outbursts of violence, which may mean accepting you can never live together or even calling off the relationship for good.

WeAreSix Fri 25-Jan-13 12:45:06

He sounds like my DH when he is sleepwalking. He has very peculiar out of character behaviour - but that's usually in the middle of the night. Although I guess 8am is your DPs equivalent of 4am.

DH was referred to a sleep clinic by GP, maybe your DP needs the same?

badguider Fri 25-Jan-13 12:45:35

I think he should try the GP. I sort of sympathise with him, I am not as bad but I do take AGES to wake up in the morning from a deep sleep and if I just try to force myself can walk into doors, fall over trying to climb into the bath and just basically want to sit in the hall and cry (for no real reason).... so I'm not agressive but I can be utterly and completely pathetic, not like me at all. When woken in the night by the fire alarm in uni halls I once fell down the stairs so bad I had to go to hospital, just because I wasn't fully awake.

Things that I've tried and help are:
1. a 'lumie' clock, this starts to light up with a special daylight immitating light half an hour before the alarm goes off, this means when it does i'm in a lighter sleep and it's easier to get up.
2. the iphone 'sleep cycle' app - this uses the motion sensor in the iphone to analyse your lighter and heavier sleep cycles and wake you when you're coming into lighter sleep within a half hour window of when you want to get up.
You can get more sophistocated versions of the 'sleep cycle' thing where you wear a motion sensor on your wrist.

Ultimately however, you might need to sleep in seperate rooms sad

PeppermintPasty Fri 25-Jan-13 12:47:45

You're not making something out of nothing, it's very worrying for you. You say it's out of character for him, but also seem to be saying he's been like this as long as you've known one another? Do you mean it's out of sync with the man he is for the rest of the day? ie he's a nice guy past ten am?!

Anyway, has he been to a GP? I would insist on it, he sounds unstable-grabbing you, being angry at you and shoving your son? -Unless he has a medical issue/disorder that he can get treated for, then the conclusion might be that he is simply a nasty piece of work.

Is there anything else, I mean does he drink or anything like that?

TurnipCake Fri 25-Jan-13 12:52:14

I'd bet my bottom dollar that after 10am, this guy isn't the most kind, sweet, gentle person ever, only less of an arsehole than he is before 10am.

I have intermittent problems with insomnia, I also work night shifts and that messes up my body clock something proper. But, I don't elbow people in their stomachs, grab their wrists aggressively or shove their children angry. Quite convenient that he 'forgets' so much of what happens. How does this guy actually manage to function?

PigletJohn Fri 25-Jan-13 13:03:29

Is there a drug or alcohol connection?

The bright lights help, and so will sunshine in summer.

Some people revive with a drink or snack, a glass of water and a biscuit by the bed may make a difference but what you describe sounds extreme.

PigletJohn Fri 25-Jan-13 13:09:43

Does he snore badly, and is he very overweight or a smoker?

Anyway, GP consultation will be better than guesswork.

Hobbitation Fri 25-Jan-13 13:14:48

Sounds like stress/insomnia. Lack of sleep + stress can make you almost crazy. Before I gave up my job, I felt like I'd be sectioned if I went on that way for much longer. He is probably just holding it together in the day. I've had apoplectic rage from being woken in the night, especially I had been trying to sleep for ages.

CartedOff Fri 25-Jan-13 13:30:57

I know there may be medical reasons for his behaviour, but I feel uneasy that you can already list three violent incidences towards you and your son and describe his behaviour in the morning as aggressive. Elbowing you in the stomach, grabbing you, pushing your son...I don't know if I could get past that, even if someone was waving a diagnosis in my face.

It's unacceptable behaviour.

TurnipCake Fri 25-Jan-13 13:32:58

Even if there was a medical reason (I'm waiting for someone to mention a thyroid problem) it would only serve as a 'huh, so that's a contributing factor' and I'd send him on his way anyway, and enjoy my mornings without having to walk on eggshells around this guy.

Hello, no, he isn't overweight or a smoker - he also doesn't drink or take drugs. Totally normal in every other way. Peppermint Pasty, yes, I do mean that it's out of character for him as he's completely normal again once he's properly awake. He obviously has been like this in the morning for a long time, but I didn't share a bed with him when we were just friends, so I had no idea!

To those who are saying this is abusive behaviour, I understand why you're saying that and it's difficult for me to really get things across over the internet, but that's definitely not the problem. i've been in... non-ideal relationships before and this isn't one of them. I think it is something to do with his sleeping problems.

He has been to see his GP in the past, but hasn't been for a while. badguider, he did mention an app of some sort like that in the past. He tries quite a lot of things to help with sleep, but he still ends up tossing and turning for most of the night. I suffer from night sweats and am a very deep sleeper, which doesn't help matters. At his own house, his bedroom is almost entirely black with minimal furniture, the comfiest bed ever, blackout blinds everywhere and things which minimise sound. I cannot provide that environment. It's like a little, silent cave. Thanks for everybody replying and mentioning seeing the doctor again. I don't know why that didn't occur to me sooner!

Just a thought - I was wondering whether it would be worth me mentioning it to his mom. We're close and spend quite a lot of time together. I've talked things through with her before and she was a great help. She has previously mentioned his inability to remember things in the morning. But I don't want him to think that we're ganging up on him!

pictish Fri 25-Jan-13 13:44:48

Whatever may or may not be causing it, his violence followed by his convenient lack of memory is totally unacceptable.

He has found a perfect excuse to behave like a complete shit, and have you put up with it.

Don't. He either seeks help immediately or gets right to fuck forever. Imho.

TurnipCake, I do appreciate you taking the time to respond, but you're on the wrong track here. The shoving of my son seemed as though it was actually meant to be moving him from his stomach (which he was jumping on and had been told no to) onto the bed, but it was misjudged and his hand caught him in an unexpected way. The elbowing and grabbing are what concern me most, as they were intentional - yet he often doesn't remember or seem aware of what's going on. I'm certainly no pushover and would happily walk away if I suspected this was more sinister or he had no desire to sort it out.

MMMarmite Fri 25-Jan-13 13:53:56

Does he take sleeping tablets? They can make it very difficult to wake up, like swimming through a fog, though I don't know if they can cause aggressive behavior.

Assuming this is out of character, which only you can judge, then I think he definitely needs to see a doctor. Perhaps you could go together - as he doesn't remember his behaviour on waking very well, it would help if you were there to describe it.

In the meantime, I think need to accept that you can't spend the night together. Does he live close enough that he can go home at night? At the moment you and your son are vulnerable to violence. Also he is probably getting a worse nights sleep too which may cause stress and damage his health.

Muminwestlondon Fri 25-Jan-13 13:55:46

Are you sure he is even awake when these things take place? DH has very lucid dreams/night terrors when he is convinced things have taken place/are in the room for example even when they haven't/aren't.

I once had one during my first pregnancy; I fell asleep in daytime and woke up convinced I had already had the baby and walked round the place, pulling things out of cupboards etc worried that I couldn't find it. I was vaguely aware of doing so, but was still in a sleep state.

I would go to the GP. Apparently stress etc makes them worse. DH finds they are getting better as he gets older.

Thumbwitch Fri 25-Jan-13 14:07:15

Muminwestlondon - my DH has those too. We nicknamed them his "episodes" - he usually gets them when he's very stressed or overtired, he would always have one after the flight from Australia to the UK, for e.g.
He's always extremely disorientated in them and it can take a couple of minutes for him to come out of them sometimes.

We deal with it by avoiding the causes, wherever possible.

extracrunchy Fri 25-Jan-13 14:07:38

You're not making something out of nothing - sounds like this needs investigating by a sleep expert, which I think your DP can be referred for by his GP.

My husband is the same to a lesser degree during the night. He's usually the kindest person on the planet, wonderful husband and father, but if DC wakes and I need DH's help, or something happens during the night, he's a totally different person, aggressive and borderline abusive, swearing, shoving, very hostile and unhelpful. He is almost IMPOSSIBLE to wake up - I mean you could literally punch him in the face and it might not have any effect! (obv wouldn't...)

I find it SO frustrating and hard not to be angry about it the text day but he genuinely can't remember it having happened at all. It's not generally an issue any more as morning's are fine, and DS doesn't often wake during the night nowadays, but your situation sounds a bit more severe and worth taking steps to fix, for both your sakes (and DC's). Apart from anything, it sounds like your DP could do with some general support with sleep anyway.

MimiSunshine Fri 25-Jan-13 14:09:31

It sounds like he has a sleep disorder. Night shifts and irregular sleeping patterns can cause havoc on the central nervous system and shouldn’t be under estimated or people accused of not just getting on with things. There’s loads online but this page has some basic info.
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/shift-work-how-to-handle-sleep-life

I think you are right to say stay away until he gets it sorted, but he can’t just set his alarm for 08:30 if he is used to getting up at 10-11am. I could probably get up at 4am once maybe twice but I’d be a wreck very quickly. He needs to get back in sync with regular waking hours, very gradually before staying over.

However I do have some sympathy with him, why on earth did you let your little boy jump all over him when you knew he was struggling and you know what he’s like in the mornings? You should have removed your son. To be honest I’d be in an aggressive rage too if I was dog tired and woken up in that way, not that I’d harm a child though.
You say you are very much a morning person and mostly leave him to it but how often do you want him to just get up? If you’re expecting him to change and become more like you, then I’m afraid you’re being very unfair and as for shaking him awake to see to your son in the night, I don’t agree with that, except maybe if you were immobile. He’s your son, he’s not his dad and I just don’t think you can expect him to parent in that way unless already agreed.

I personally think people are too quick to go for the DV card; sleep disorders are real and can have huge effect on people. Assuming you don’t feel he is becoming abusive I think you need to support him in getting help. I think you should both go to see his GP so that you can fully understand what is going on with him and how to progress.
This is an interesting article to read:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801091411.htm
The interesting points:
“More often, a confusional arousal occurs when someone attempts to awaken a sleeping individual in bed.”
"There is no evidence that individuals with these disorders are inherently violent or predetermined to seek out victims,"

And dont speak to his mum, you're not children, sit down and discuss things and make a plan for resolving things.

MimiSunshine Fri 25-Jan-13 14:10:51

Thanks for a very informative reply, MimiSunshine. I have tried to convince him to do it gradually, but he only found out about the new job this week and he has to be in work at 9.30 on Monday morning. I know he's worrying about it, as he's going into a higher position than before, but he tends to become quiet when worried, rather than talking about it. I certainly don't expect him to become more like me - he's very good at nighttime, whereas I become very sleepy and grumpy, no matter where I am. He makes sure I get to bed before I get too bad and gets me a drink etc. That's just the way we are. I just don't want him to be totally unable to function in a morning. I wasn't really 'letting' my son jump all over him. I'd just told him to get down when it happened. We're usually very playful, so that kind of thing is fairly normal and usually ends up with me at the bottom of a pile-on! And yes, he does assume a parent role with my son. He'd intentionally come over to help, as I had a terrible sickness bug and couldn't cope alone. They spend most days together and we're currently looking to move in together. I'd like to get this sorted before that happens. I'll have a good look at those links. Hopefully we can get this sorted out! Thanks all smile

expatinscotland Fri 25-Jan-13 14:38:31

What pictish said. NO MORE overnights until it's completely sorted out. He's an adult. This is his responsibility if this relationship is important to him.

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