The researchers found that 74 percent of the partners encouraged either an earlier bedtime or a later wake time. The hitch? This directly contradicts research-tested strategies for dealing with insomnia, which recommend staying in bed only for the amount of time you’re actually asleep—even if it’s just five hours. (Learn more about insomnia tricks that really work.) Worse, 42 percent of well-intentioned partners suggested no-nos like reading or watching TV in bed; 35 percent recommended naps, caffeine, or taking it easier during the day—all of which can make sleeplessness worse.
“It is possible that partners are unwittingly perpetuating insomnia symptoms in the patient with insomnia,” said lead author Alix Mellor, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow and coordinator of the Researching Effective Sleep Treatments project at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. She also found that the “helpful” partners fared poorly as well: Their sleep suffered and anxiety increased.
The best approach? Rather than offering advice to a sleepless significant other, encourage him or her to seek professional help, like cognitive behavioral therapy. You’ll both feel better.