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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?

AbigailAdams Sat 26-Jan-13 08:54:26

OP you know this is wrong. That's why you posted. Trust your instincts. Women are told so often to override them (parts of this thread are a good example of that). Please don't, they are there for a reason

pictish Sat 26-Jan-13 09:50:29

how can he have no memory of elbowing the op, but remembers his reasons for doing so? makes very poor logic.

Quite. That's because it's bullshit.

It wouldn't be a case of the person that got hit saying, for safety's sake, till this stuff is resolved, it's best if we don't share a bed. No. That would come from the PERSON WHO DID THE HITTING.

Yes, yes it would.

He just doesn't want to get up and help with the OP's son, and had a flash of temper when he was urged to by the OP. Imho.

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:10:22

My DH has sleep problems and has real trouble waking up. He has insomnia and has also just been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea (he's getting a CPAP device to help with this and is having a full sleep study). He can be really quite rude if woken in the night or from a deep sleep in the morning and has a tendency to look at me with these cold dead eyes - I really do not recognise the person he is when he is like this. He has very confused and quite often no memory of these episodes - sometimes they are hysterically funny and he says utterly bizarre things or laughs hysterically.

He has hit me in the night but he is not an abuser. He genuinely has no idea what is going on. Even on a good morning he thrashes around and shouts out when woken (often shouts 'What's going on?! What? What?').

I really think the OP should repost this in the Health section - at some point we have to trust that she knows more than random people on the internet do about the exact circumstances. I agree though that he has to take sorting this out extremely seriously. If he is not sleeping properly he should have this properly investigated - apart from anything it will impair his driving ability. And if he doesn't make attempts to sort it out then that would speak volumes about how genuine this is.

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:11:05

OP if you want to PM me please do.

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:14:17

Because I've lived with someone with major sleep problems for 15 years. And he is lovely in all other ways. He also sleep walks and sleep talks by the way, particularly when stressed. You can have whole entire conversations with him including once when he was naked and carving bits of a ham in the fridge. Except it wasn't me talking to him, it was my flatmate. He was blush when we told him about it in the morning. Sometimes he makes toast and bovril in his sleep. We only know because he has bovril breath in the morning...

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:15:43

Actually, webweaver's post is utterly excellent.

sarahseashell Sat 26-Jan-13 10:21:18

shrinkingnora it's one thing being married to someone with sleep problems so severe (and that must be hard sad) but quite another to progress with a new relationship. OP has a history of abusive partners and a ds from a previous relationship to consider. She does not have to continue with this relationship.

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:26:33

Yes, but she also does not have to write it off without looking at it fairly. I honestly am normally looking at threads like this and thinking 'red flag - get out!' but so much of this resonates with how Dh behaves around sleep that I am inclined to think they need the help of experts.

'He said he thought I'd hit him when I'd touched him' - Dh cannot distinguish between a gentle touch on the shoulder and a wallop when he is like this. The disorientation and loss of balance also. But above all, the seeming like a stranger.

sarahseashell Sat 26-Jan-13 10:30:40

But she doesn't owe him any 'fairness' particularly given that he's been physical with the ds as well as her. Would you honestly bring a child into this scenario, if you didn't have to? I wouldn't

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:41:24

Hmm. I do see what you mean but I think all of this depends on his reaction to sorting it out. I know some of the behaviours sound completely unbelievable but if you saw someone in the middle of one of these episodes you would be astonished at how awake they can seem. Sorry, not explaining myself very well.

And of course I wouldn't bring a child into an abusive scenario but I did have three children with a man with chronic sleep disorders. And they know that Daddy is utterly bonkers around sleep. But they are also very very secure in the knowledge that he doesn't mean to be shouty when he wakes up and that it is an illness. I'm kind of tempted to film it for the OP to see if it resonates with her at all...

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 10:48:53

And I meant fair to herself as well as him! I really don't feel I'm explaining myself terribly well but I get woken up by DH's sleep issues approximately hourly at the moment can't wait for the CPAP device to arrive! It's like having a newborn.

sarahseashell Sat 26-Jan-13 10:50:36

Shrinking it sounds hard sad I do get what you're saying and no disrespect to you it sounds like you're very supportive and your children understand it's an illness, it's their dad and it's a different scenario than a potential stepfather.
OP I hope you're okay the thread has taken off somewhat and I hope OP comes back

Globular Sat 26-Jan-13 10:51:17

shrinkingnora Would your DH be able to not remember elbowing you, but remember his reasons for doing so?

That's the bit that makes me think it's more than just a sleeping disorder.

northeastofeden Sat 26-Jan-13 10:52:28

I really think the OP should speak to her DP about getting some specialist advice, clearly I would not recommend that anyone stay with someone who actually is abusive, however there does seem to be a lot of prejudice on this board around sleep disorders (speaking as someone who has one, most of those giving opinions don't) where they don't 'believe' loss of memory etc, much like some people don't 'believe' in depression etc 'they just need to pull themselve together blah blah...
I do take the point that how he has responded to finding out about the incidents of particular aggression is not appropriate, however he may be embarrassed, or not be believing it himself, I know it has taken several partners and my family before I fully understood my problem, it has been easier because two other people in my family do it and I have seen them when it happens.
I asked DH about this last night apparently sometimes I kick him too, I had no idea.
Be safe, sleep separately for now whilst you get this properly looked into, I would at least get it looked into.

HandbagCrab Sat 26-Jan-13 10:59:27

Does a responsible adult start a relationship with a woman with a child when he knows he has a violent sleep disorder?

Would a responsible adult go to the gp and beg for help after the first incident of sleep violence towards the woman they love?

Would a responsible adult expect another adult to do it for them (organise gp, hand hold, take the violence whilst it is sorted) or would they do it on their own? It speaks volumes that you are the one posting on the Internet, finding out about sleep disorders.

Anyone who hurt my ds whether they meant it or not would be out. If he's the amazing man with a sleep problem he'll move heaven and earth to sort it out to be with you. Or you could have a relationship but he never stays over if it cannot be sorted. He's an adult, not a child and no one should put up with being hurt physically by an adult because 'they can't help it' because they can, there is always a solution.

HandbagCrab Sat 26-Jan-13 11:04:54

I think physically assaulting folk in your semi-awake state is different to shouting or making bovril on toast too, although it may be a continuum on a scale.

I wouldn't choose to put up with someone's unmediated psychotic episodes for example, but I could manage/help someone with mild-moderate depression, providing they weren't being abusive towards me or my child.

spudmurphy Sat 26-Jan-13 11:11:05

He conveniently 'doesn't remember'

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 11:15:33

Surprisingly, yes! Sometimes he has had episodes where something has happened and we have talked the whole thing through later and he knows his logic for doing things and he thinks they are totally reasonable at the time but can see later that they are madness.

Example 1 - we were staying with friends a while after we got together and he sleep walked. He got dressed and went to the loo. He then went to the front door and was telling me how he was going to walk to his Grandad's house (over a 100 miles!) to check on him (his Grandad had just died sad). I managed to gently turn him round and get him back to bed but had I not woken up he would have been lost in London at 4am in sub zero temperatures. With no shoes on.

Example 2 - he was snoring incredibly loudly (think wood sawing x a million) so I really gently put my hand on his face to wake him up (had tried shaking him to no avail). He whipped round and hit me. He thought I'd slapped him and lashed out (not that he would respond like that if someone slapped him when he was awake).

Example 3 - he once gave me a long complicated explanation as to why he couldn't brush his teeth before bed - there was apparently 'too much Shakespeare in the bathroom'. In this case, he didn't remember the exact reason but knew that he very strongly felt he mustn't go in the bathroom.

There are a fair few more but this post is getting rather long! Without the OP's second paragraph her three examples would absolutely be abuse. The sleep thing muddies the waters somewhat. And I totally agree no more overnighters until this is sorted.

In the OP's position I would sit down with him somewhere neutral and tell him that this situation cannot continue. DH has been very frightened in the past of what might have happened in some of his episodes but has always been open to discussion and practical ways to help it - perhaps you could note down all the things about his sleep that worry you. DH was genuinely not aware of lots of his issues because he hadn't lived with a partner before. It was only when there was a witness to it that he realised how many things he did in his sleep! The time from referral to monitoring for the sleep apnoea was only a couple of weeks and the sleep clinic referral looks like being just as quick, by the way.

Disclaimer - if even a tiny part of you thinks he may be using it as an excuse to behave how the hell he wants then listen to that tiny part.

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 11:19:11

'I think physically assaulting folk in your semi-awake state is different to shouting or making bovril on toast too, although it may be a continuum on a scale.'

Really, it's not a 'semi awake' state. It's very different from how someone without sleep disorders would be when woken.

shrinkingnora Sat 26-Jan-13 11:20:04

It might help people to understand that there is being awake, being asleep, being half awake and half asleep and another totally different state that does not relate to either.

LesBOFerables Sat 26-Jan-13 11:32:06

He may have a sleep disorder which needs investigating, i dont know. But to focus on what youve posted from a different angle- and I know this is difficult to hear- it is concerning to hear that you have a history of abusive relationships, are still dealing with hostility from your ex, and are suffering depression, yet within just twelve months of dating your new partner is playing a parental role to your son, without even having moved in yet.

I'm just wondering if you shouldn't be stepping back a bit and slowing the pace of this down until things are clearer? The Freedom Programme sounds like a really good idea.

shine0ncrazydiamond Sat 26-Jan-13 11:38:09

This man no more has a 'sleep disorder' than I have the Ebola virus.

He sounds like a grumpy bastard in the mornings and can't handle the irritation of a small child bouncing about at some ungodly hour. However, rather than just confining his grumpiness to himself or being a bit snappy, he is already , within a year, using physical force.

You've had your red flag, your warning. It's up to you what you do about that.

HandbagCrab Sat 26-Jan-13 11:39:45

shrinking sorry I was trying to think of a way to describe it, rather than making a judgement of whether the man in question is awake or not, perhaps I should have used sleepwalk.

I can see your dh didn't know how bad his problem was until he met you, but presumably the op and this man are older and I would have thought this might have come up before? In which case, this man hasn't done anything about it has he?

Someone could be perfectly lovely and hit people in their sleep. But if they were truly lovely they wouldn't want to hurt people in their sleep so they would manage it by either getting help or not sleeping with other people. They wouldn't expect other people just to put up with it or have them run round trying to find solutions to their problem. I really think it is that simple. I hope op comes back as there is lots of good points from many different angles that might give her food for thought.

shine0ncrazydiamond Sat 26-Jan-13 11:41:31

I'd also like to pick up on this man playing a parental role to your child, despite not living with you and the fact you've only been together for a year. These things should be done very gradually and with great care. Him getting angry and shoving your son are not signs of a sleep disorder. At, what, 9am? They're signs of an aggressive man.

EugenesAxe Sat 26-Jan-13 11:45:52

Yes I agree, GP for sleep clinic referral - and you aren't making a big deal of nothing. What you've described is not nothing! I think you've handled it really well.

I don't really agree with 'truly lovely people wouldn't want to hurt people in their sleep' either. We all have the fight/flight instinct; who knows what's going on with him when he's in these states, but it doesn't sound like the 'higher brain' is being engaged much. I would see what the experts think before judging either way.

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