How to Help A Family Member Suffering from Poor Sleep

While it’s easy to perceive the many effects that poor sleep has on our own waking lives, it can be more difficult to appreciate the impact that our poor sleep has on those around us. This is especially relevant for close family, who have no choice but to cope with effects of a loved one’s sleep problems on an ongoing basis. It’s important to remember that, with some thoughtful consideration and teamwork, the entire family can pull together to identify sleep issues and offer support. At the end of the day, by working as a team, everyone can get more rest.

The Effects of Sleep Conditions on the Family

BED PARTNER – A sleep condition can add stress to a relationship, especially if the person with the condition is in denial or doesn’t think it is important to address the issue. Many conditions will awaken the bed partner more often than the sufferer, leading to a disagreement over how severe the issue actually is.

FAMILY SCHEDULE – If one member of a family has a sleep condition, it makes them less likely to plan and participate in family activities. Besides cutting down on family time, too many sleepless nights can lead to changes in mood, heart disease and obesity, with long-lasting effects on family life.

CHILDREN – In a young child, a lack of sleep can lead to tantrums, feeding problems and, in severe cases, even growth and cognitive impairment. Infants require 12-14 hours of sleep per day, while children need an average of 10 hours per night and teens need more than 8. Sleep deprivation in older children results in mood swings, impulsivity, anxiety and poor performance in school.

OLDER ADULTS – Some of the most common sleeping problems faced by older adults include insomnia, sleep apnea, periodic limb movements and cramps. An underlying medical problem can result in trouble sleeping, and vice versa. It is important to remember that hydration, nutrition, mental and physical exercise, as well as regular daily light exposure can all have a major impact on sleep quality in this population.

Identifying a Sleep Condition

Family members should be on the look out for the following indicators of a sleep condition:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Excessive snoring or routine dry/sore throat
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Memory or attention problems
  • Irritability or low threshold for anger
  • Lack of concentration or engagement
  • Depression or anxiety

How Healthy Is Your Sleep?

Find out using our simple, sleep calculator: Should you have any questions or like assistance on your family’s path to better sleep, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7527.

National Institutes of Health
American Psychiatric Association
National Sleep Foundation
National Sleep Foundation
American Family Physician

How to Help A Family Member Suffering from Poor Sleep