Narcissistic Abuse Tactics: Sleep Deprivation

I had a random memory last night of something that The Narcissist used to do towards the end of our marriage that drove me absolutely crazy. As with most things involving The Narcissist this simple memory sent me down a spiral of other memories and resulted in me doing a bit of research this morning.

At the end of the marriage I was pretty deep in depression which resulted in me being exhausted at all times. I would work a very full work day and often come to do some sort of crazy workout with The Narcissist. By the time we would be cleaned up and eating dinner it would be 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Most nights, right after I finished eating I would be so exhausted that I would often fall asleep sitting up on the couch. He wasn’t working at that point in time so he would stay up often all night long playing his Playstation and then he would get to sleep in as late as he wanted while I would get up to the alarm clock and get myself to work.

The thing that I happened to think of last night is that almost every single night he would wake me up from a sound sleep about two hours after I fell asleep “to lovingly remind me” to go brush my teeth. This wasn’t a once or twice type of thing… it happened nearly every night. I am not the happiest of people when I am unexpectedly woken up so I certainly responded in a grumpy and groggy manner. Sometimes he would pester me and even if I fell back asleep two or three times he would continue to wake me up. Eventually I would give up and just go brush my teeth, but the thing that killed me is that I am the type of sleeper who once I am up and moving and turning on lights, etc. it is nearly impossible for me to fall back asleep. So I would brush my teeth and then be unable to fall back asleep until about an hour before my alarm clock would go off. This obviously resulted in me having a terrible sleep pattern and being absolutely exhausted at all times.

This issue was a topic that we would talk about often. He would manipulate the situation to talk about how much he cared about me and how he just wanted my teeth to be clean and for me to feel good. Then he would accuse me of being lazy and not caring about my own health and imply that if I was a better person I would be okay with getting up to take care of myself. Then he would turn the situation to be a representation of how I didn’t appreciate him for how much he loves me, and I didn’t care about him because if I did I would take better care of myself. I would explain to him that once I fell asleep and was woken up it was really hard for me to fall back asleep and that was why I was so grumpy, and even told him it would be more helpful if he could help me remember to brush my teeth as soon as we were done eating and before I actually fell asleep. (He never did though.)

He would also gaslight me and manipulate the story of how grumpy I was, he would play off of the fact that I was sleepy and ‘didn’t really remember how bad it was.’ He would then immediately play the victim and use this as yet another example of how I was actually the one being abusive towards him. I would spend most of the day after trying to ‘make up’ for ‘how horribly’ I had supposedly treated him the night before, just to have it all play out all over again. He would even go as far as to play a mind f*ck game of spinning it all around to where he would say I was so terrible that he was going to stop trying to take care of me and stop giving me love and I would end up having to beg him to please wake me up to brush my teeth just to show him that I really did care and really did appreciate him. Talk about crazy!!!

At the time that this was happening and before I really understood Narcissistic Abuse and emotional / psychological abuse I looked at this particular thing like it was something totally minor… like how you hear other women complain about how their husbands leave dirty socks on the floor and don’t put them in the hamper. I mean who would even really take me seriously if I had tried to explain that my husband was abusing me by wanting me to brush my teeth??? That is the insanity and the power of these types of abuse, they can turn the littlest and seemingly minor things into a powerful way to control and manipulate and abuse you.

And really, sleep deprivation has huge impacts on your emotional and physical health. It leaves you in a state of confusion and exhaustion and it even hinders your ability to make decisions, and react rationally versus emotionally. I did a whole bunch of googling this morning and was not able to find a lot of information about sleep deprivation as a form of abuse. I did find a great piece on “Picking up the Pieces Blog” as well as a lot of articles on the negative impacts of sleep deprivation and how sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture and interrogation. This last one certainly made me stop and wonder in The Narcissist was again using his military training against me.

I am curious to know if anyone else has experienced sleep deprivation at the hands of their abuser, is this something that was unique to The Narcissist or is this a more common form of abuse that we should be paying attention to?

Why Sleep Deprivation is Torture – Psychology Today

Why Emotional Abuse and Forced Sleep Deprivation Are Effective Tools to Gain Compliance: Part 1 – Picking up the Pieces Blog

58 thoughts on “Narcissistic Abuse Tactics: Sleep Deprivation

  1. Yes, I can relate. Not to your degree, but in similar ways. With my husband it was mostly sex. He would wake me up and try to get me in the mood. Of course, I would not be able to go back to sleep. I had heard very similar explanations to the ones you were given, how much he loved me and cared for me and was trying to show his appreciation for me… by having sex. I was eventually able to make him stop because I would start taking showers and repeating my whole go-to-bed routine in an effort to calm myself down (also because the sex would only satisfy him and not both of us, leaving me so excited that it was impossible for me to go back to sleep.) I would then start doing chores, scrubbing the tub, things like that. Eventually, he got tired of the noise (towards the last times, I didn’t bother in keeping it quiet because he would go straight to sleep after climax and he would snore like crazy, not allowing me to fall asleep again.)

    I breath through my nose and I could get loud while sleeping. It’s not something I can fix. I would need surgery. He would wake me up, even throw pillows at me because he couldn’t sleep, he said. So then I was the one not being able to go to sleep. The man cracked his knuckles in his sleep! (He’s constantly doing that when awake, too.) Who the hell does that in their sleep? And he had some sort of restless-legs syndrome that he would not want to seek treatment for. He would shake the bed like crazy and I would not be able to sleep. I made him take the frame away and put the mattress straight on the floor. That improved the situation. Not much since I could still feel the shaking, but it allowed for a much still situation.

    But the one that he used with me that was a lot closer to your situation was working out. I would come from work and he would insist that I would go work out. I was exhausted, had just driving 70+ miles one way from my job, sleep deprived because of the sex, the shaking, the knuckle cracking or whatever, the hours I would spend awake thinking about what the heck was wrong with my marriage (didn’t know about NPD back then and I was, unknowingly, in the midst of the worst stage of gaslight) and he would insist that I hit the gym because “I know how happy it makes you when you work out; I care for you; you need to go; you’ll feel better…” blah, blah, blah, blah. I cannot workout that late in the day, neither I can work out very early in the morning. I get in a very bad mood and working out that late revs me up and then I can’t sleep. If I would say anything, he would say I didn’t appreciate him and how much he cared for me. The same speech you got.

    I hope this helps. There’s a video out there about narcs using sleep deprivation to control. I will look it up and share the link with you.

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      1. Anything to have the power to disturb me while sleeping. My shift would start at 4am. So I must wake up for 2:30. With blaring tv and sunflower seed sucking he would insist on watching tv in bed while I slept. He would then put porn on to wake me by midnight. I was disturbed constantly getting 4-5 hours a night. Regardless of how early I tried to go to bed. If I wasn’t disturbed I would wake up in a panic, the silence meant he was trolling online for sex or he left the house all together. I did it for 30 years. I’m divorcing him after proof of cheating. I am free and well rested.

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    1. They are so crazy!!! My goodness its exhausting just reading it all. My Narc could sleep through a hurricane so he of course got a good night’s sleep regardless of what else was going on. Nothing was more frustrating than laying there wide awake listening to him snore peacefully. haha

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      1. I hear you. Mine did the same. He could sleep through a tornado siren blaring all over town. I once couldn’t wake him up and I went to the basement by myself. Another time he got mad at me for waking him up due to the tornado siren going off.

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    2. The gym is definitely a pattern as well. I have no words for how many times I was “forced” or coerced or manipulated to go to the gym and work out. Or how many times I was told that I was gaining weight and needed to hit the gym. And how I don’t take care of myself. And he would point out anytime there was any kind of small increase in my weight absolutely anywhere on my body. Made me feel like such utter shit. And the having to work out with him was the stupidest, dumbest, most bullshit controlling crap in the world.

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      1. Jane Doe, oh yes mind was absolutely crazy about this topic. I had to track all of my food intake daily, adhere to his crazy eating regimine, and endure crazy workouts during the 5 hours of “down time” I had during a day. It was exhausting to say the least. ❤

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      2. He was never that direct with me concerning my weight. However, he would say “So we can get you back in shape.” Never mind I busted my back shoveling snow and I was not allowed to workout At All. It took almost 8 years for me to be able to go back to the gym and not feel any pain 8 years being 2017.)

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      3. Yes, it is!!!!! Mine did the same thing!!! Even going so far as to tell me that he married me despite what I looked like and I should be grateful. Or saying he was never physically attracted to me, that his love was deeper than that (mind you this was a mere month after I’d given birth to our son) and the only reason he could have sex with his ex wife was because she looked like a porn star (triangulation at its finest). So I took my power back by refusing to go to the gym with HIM anymore and going on my own – not once, mind you, but twice a day just to prove that my will was stronger than his and that his words about how weak I was as a person were utter nonsense. This actually catapulted me into leaving him. I lost 92 lbs, gained a ton of muscle, and now have the body I always dreamed about. The endorphins and confidence I received from the gym helped me detach from my addiction to his negative abuse. They helped me see past his constant gas lighting. Now I can’t imagine a life without weight lifting and HIIT. My body, my temple, and no one desecrates it with their words or their fists. Mine was in the army 20 years and would purposely keep me awake in the middle of the night using his PTSD as an excuse so I would always feel terrible for having to say, “Can you please turn down The Hobbit? It’s blaring.” He would always turn it on at like 2 in the morning full volume. Or turn on bright lights in the bedroom at 3 AM. Or play his computer video game, WOW, but refuse to wear headphones until 4 AM. It was maddening. He of course didn’t work as well and had the luxury of sleeping in and staying home playing video games all day.

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    3. My Narc would push / kick me and the dog off of the bed in his sleep. Like forceful shoves until we fell off. If I accidentally touched him, he’d curse at me so loud… in his sleep. Somehow, he was more miserable in his sleep than he was while awake (which I didn’t think could be possible).

      But the one time that I was in a deep sleep with my arms above my head.. he decided to poke my armpit really hard. Obviously it scared the crap out of me and I snapped awake and gave him a dirty, half asleep, confused look… and he kicked me out of his apartment for ‘daring to look at him like that.’

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      1. Our subconscious is released while we sleep since the conscious is not awake to keep feelings and thoughts on check. That’s why he was probably like that in his sleep.

        I talk in my sleep. I was always scared I would say something that my husband could end up using against me. It was yet another reason why I had lots of sleep problems and even insomnia during most of the devaluation phase.

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    4. Yes me!
      He believes that sleeping 8 hours is a sign of weakness and feels very proud of himself that he only needed 4 hrs!
      Me, at that time being his wife, he insisted I should do the same. He would play loud, blasting music or count coins at the end of the bed.
      I was numb. I was so numb I couldn’t get out.
      What made matters worse is I’ve finally found out why I’ve been collapsing for 40 years…. severe sleep apnea.
      I’ve had a double dose.
      After divorcing him 14 years ago and discovering my recent diagnosis, He has said a reluctant sorry for his part in it, and I thought ‘what other part was there?’
      Just a horrible waste of my life.

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    1. Just googled this subject wondering if it could be a deliberate form of something…torture seems dramatic..and it makes me feel like a victim which I refuse to be that. This relationship has been 4 years. Not sure if he is a narcissist. Although, there are identicle similarities from the help of these posts that make me suspect this is exactly what I’m dealing with. There is just no peace, even to go to sleep. As soon as I start sleeping…he either wants sex knowing I have to work another 12 to 14 hour day three hours later. Or wakes me up for no apparent reason yelling…do you want me here or not?? Just say you want me here? You don’t know how much I do for you! You don’t see it! So…in my confusion like…Im sleeping..is this really happening and why? So..I didn’t respond and acted like I was sleeping. So this went on for 2 hours and he left. Thank God. Lol. Anyhow, there has been similiar situations. Like, he would make me feel guilty that I wasn’t excited about going out or playing pool.,After working long hours and having to do it again the next day.. I would try to go to bed and he would flip up the music and flip on all the lights and be loud and get angry that I finally went to bed at 12. Having to get back up at 5 am. Well, enough of my whining. I just thank you for answering my questions, and for all your posts. Im going to say…You all get a peaceful night sleep!!

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  2. Standing ovation to you for addressing this form of abuse.

    My ex-husband used to make me feel so shitty for sleeping early. My entire life, I have had a routine of being in bed by 9:30-10:00 at the latest and being awake at 6:00 am. It’s how my body functions and how I feel happiest. Well after we got married, I got guilt trips of the century for this. “You know I’m home alone all day! How could you go to sleep so early. You never spend time with me. You’re like a kid. You’re going to train your body to stay up and I will help you” So he helped me by keeping me awake till 12:00-1:00 am and then my body would be up at 6:00am sharp like an internal alarm clock and then I’d have to go to work while he could stay in and sleep all day if he pleased.

    He would also wake me up at 2:00 am because he “couldn’t sleep” and he was “anxious” and he was having “heart palpitations.” So there I would be, up from 2:00 am to 4-5 am and then have to go to work at 7:00 am while, once again, he could sleep alllllll day if he pleased. He didn’t seem to get anxiety or heart palpitations then.

    The sex was a big one. If I didn’t want to have sex, he would grope and touch and feel and kiss me while I would be trying at sleep until finally I’d give in just to end the damn torment and then the sex would last another hour and the cleanup would be 15 minutes and then another hour to fall asleep resulting in about 4 hours of sleep total.

    During the physical abuse phases, he would keep me up all night shouting and screaming and hitting. And then I’d have to go to work at 7:00am while, once again, he could sleep in all day if he pleased because he didn’t have work. And then once I got back, the cycle repeated all over again. I was so sleep deprived I didn’t know what was what. He also gas-lit me to say “You just raised your voice at me” if I was trying to defend myself during an argument and I would say no I didn’t I was just making a point and then that would become “Are you going to argue with me? You’re fucking going to raise your voice at me? You’re going to disrespect me like that?” and start hitting me. I had no energy to fight to keep two thoughts together in my head. I was so exhausted.

    Sleep deprivation is so real and it’s such a manipulative tactic. I truly have no words for the fog my brain was in because I was never getting enough sleep and my sleeping pattern was disrupted from hell and back. I could barely form sentences sometimes, couldn’t focus at work, couldn’t keep it together during the fights to respond with full sentences back. I was so, so, so tired.

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    1. Jane Doe, thank you so much for sharing. During the physically abusive phases in my marriage The Narcissist would also keep me up all night “discussing the problem” I would fall asleep sitting up and he would wake me 4, 5, 6 times and then claim I didnt love him or care enough to give him my full attention. He would finally go to sleep at 5:00am while I had to get ready and go act like a coherent adult for the day. It was beyond crazy and I still am not quite sure how I managed to maintain it all for so long.

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      1. My wife does that to me. I work nights so during the day she will blast the radio or come in and out if the bedroom constantly. Then 2 to e hours before the alarm would go off is when she would crawl into bed and want to cuddle, then get upset if I was too tired at that point to want to. Which would turn into talking to resolve issues. The worst is her asking if I’m awake which would wake me up and if I got angry and said I just want to sleep the reply would be you said you were awake. Making it now my fault . it got to the point where I was losing my temper because of lack of sleep and not quite remembering the conversation or what I said and that would be used against me later. Its horrible when you are half asleep listening intently for the sound of feet on the stairs.

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  3. The narc would wake me up at 5 or 6am after a late night. They are strengthened by our lack of sleep because they gain ‘fuel’ from it, but it definitely affects them. The narc I knew had a heart valve transplant, and I know two other narcs (one famous) who had them too.

    https://narcsite.com/2016/12/04/drunk-with-fatigue-2/

    There are loads of videos on sleep deprivation narcissist on YouTube. But I understand how our epiphanies just keep coming, for the longest time. My latest one is that perhaps if there is a God and a Devil then narcissists are creatures on earth doing the devil’s work. Some people are convinced of it. The narc projected many times of his evil on to people, he even wrote a song about how he made the decision to choose the devil over God – it was very subtley done. I just didn’t hear or see it at the time.

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  4. Mine wasn’t quite as bad but I worked and he didn’t so I was having to get up at 6.30 every day to work to pay or bills while he stayed at home, he also knew that I found it near impossible to get back to sleep once woken up. He didn’t get me up to make me brush my teeth or anything but he would set alarms to watch football games in the middle of the night on the TV in the bedroom, he would have the volume on pretty loud and would turn on me if i suggested him turning the volume down or the brightness down. He could have easily watched his football games elsewhere or with the volume and brightness turned down. If I brought it up and how it wrecked my nights sleep he would turn it around on me and say I wanted to have everything up to me and that i didn’t want him to do things he enjoyed. He would also wake me up at about 6 / 7 am at weekends when i had told him i needed to catch up on sleep. He would claim he was waking me up so I could make the most of my weekend and that by wanting to sleep until at least 8 or 9 I was being lazy. He would also do the same if I was ill, which after all the sleep deprivation I was getting colds and flu quite regularly. He would tell me that resting when sick was lazy and then also try to convince me that sex was the only sure remedy to colds and flu and by refusing him that I obviously didn’t want to become well.

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  5. Sometimes I would stay at my own place on nights I knew I had to wake up early, because my Narc would come back to his place completely drunk every night and loudly order food at 1 AM and talk to the dog really loud (cause he hadn’t seen the dog ALLLL day because he’d been at the bar for 10 hours), not caring that I couldn’t sleep in the next day like he could.

    But, if I stayed at my place to avoid being woken up by him, he’d call me a million times or show up and ring my doorbell until I woke up. I never understood why he couldn’t just let me sleep.

    Then, the next day when he slept well past noon but I woke up at 7am, he’d complain I was grumpy and that he didn’t want to see me if I was going to act like that.

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  6. Although I have no experience of being in a narcissistic relationship, seriously, this post and the comments has me both angry at what you’ve all experienced but so very glad that you’ve gotten out of it! And the fact that you’re courageously sharing it, and educating us about an subject which isn’t discussed enough, hats off to you. Shows your strength. Thank you for this enlightening and eye opening post.

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  7. I can totally relate to this. I’m a really light sleeper, and he would often stroke my back or touch my bum as I was trying to get to sleep, lightly enough to tickle – but he would deny that he’d done it to wake me up, or he’d say that I moved and he just wanted to tell me how much he loved me. As you say – who would believe me if I said ‘he was abusing me by stroking my back’?! Makes me sound like the crazy one. I was so sleep deprived I ended up being diagnosed with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia – the cumulation of being stuck in permanent fight or flight mode. I was such a mess – and still am – it’s been 5 months now since I broke up with him, and I’m still not back to normal.

    As with you, mine would turn it all around and make it my fault – he would say that I was unnecessarily grumpy due to sleep deprivation so it caused me to abuse, neglect and dehumanise him. Something else he used to do was want to be in the same room as me all the time. When I get up in the morning, I’m not particularly chatty. I have stuff to do, I am trying to wake up, feed the dog, walk the dog, get ready, etc – he couldn’t stand that I had a routine in the morning which didn’t involve him, it drove him bonkers. And any time I wanted to spend time alone, he’d be checking up on me constantly – again, he was ‘just being nice’ and making sure his girlfriend was ok. It was suffocating.

    Really loving your blog, it’s made me remember and realise a lot of things regarding the way mine acted towards me!

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  8. Yes. Our relationship was long-distanced one. He used to call me at 4 am or 3 am, to talk ’cause he could not sleep. Of course, he would ruined my night. I was constantly exhausted during our relationship, which lasted 5 months. My immunity system failed at one point. And I also experienced his coldness, when we spent few nights together, he did not like me to hug him, he pushed me on my bed. He never kissed me to my mouth.

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  9. I was in a relationship with someone and I was sleep deprived. He was of the opinion that problems should be discussed even until the early morning hours , because going to sleep with an unsolved issue was not recommended . There were a lot of discussions that took place from 8 ‘0 clock in the evening till 5 or 6 o clock in the morning. Sometimes I only had 30 minutes of sleep when I was sitting behind my work desk. This lead to absence from work. I begged him to stop the discussions. During the discussions he interrogated me about past realtionships for example. It was pure torture. I decided to stay at my parents house , thinking that sleep deprivation was something of the past. No, he called me at the strangest times. If I didn’t pick up the phone , he accused me of not taking good care of him etc.

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  10. Mine was familiar with proverbs27: 14 too. He told that one to me, and I know a good bit of scripture. To bless a neighbor LOUDLY in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. They’re satanic

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  11. Wow! This is the first I have heard of sleep deprivation as abuse, and I can totally see how it applies to me, when I hadn’t previously considered it as such. It was frustrating, but now I know exactly what it was, abuse.
    My husband would also decide to discuss our problems into the early hours of the morning, knowing that we had to leave for work at dawn. If I were asleep he would wake me, if he was not home he would constantly message, and if I tried to ignore those messages, or were genuinely asleep, he would call and wake me up so that I would see them and respond. If we were on good terms, it was the demanding love life, having to fulfil his needs every night. And if I was asleep he would wake me. Although we both worked, as soon as we got home I would go straight into the kitchen or take care of the children. He would sleep. He wouldn’t help me in getting the children ready in the mornings either, and so I would be up before him.At one point I was so tired I would fall asleep very early while breastfeeding my baby and then not taking care of his ahem, needs. He thought I was possessed or had black magic done to me. It couldn’t possibly be that I was overworked and exhausted!
    When I started talking about divorce he took me to a psychiatrist. I have never been more sane. The spell has broken. Oh and like one of the other ladies commenting above, I have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

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  12. This is an amazing piece. I thought I was going insane. I was exhausted one night, running on auto pilot, cleaning, tending to the kids. Apparently, my body decided to shut down, I walked right into a wall and he yelled that I was being careless.

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  13. This sounds similar to my situation . We would not eat until 10:30 or 11:00 pm and I thought it’s because he drinks and needed that buzz before he ate.. He was always mad at me for something and if I defended myself he would then turn it on me like it was my fault.. and sometimes he would go into a narcissist rage and do crazy things… keeping me up and then I would try to leave and then he would take a loaded gun and put it to his head.. I freaked out cause I thought he was going to blow his head off…

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  14. I was in a three year relationship with this man and I did not know what narcissist was until an abuse advocate said that he was a narcissist.. he manipulated me and called me all kinds of names.. I pushed my family and friends away while the abuse continued.. he broke my windshield and the very next day made an appt to get it fixed but he never apologized but instead justified what he done by saying he made my car better with a new windshield.. I’m lucky to be alive because he has threatened to kill himself and me both.. He discarded me 5 weeks a ago and I cut off all contact with him… I have blocked him on all scocial sights.. I’m walking away from this thankful I’m alive!

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  15. I just came across this and I had to comment because sleep deprivation affected me so much! My narc deliberately kept me awake for 3 days straight after I begged him to give me space to finish my Masters thesis.I only asked for one week. He kept up an argument about nothing and stormed into the bedroom all day (I was working nightshift) yelling and slamming doors. He also invited his friends round to have a drinking session (he is fucking 40 years old) and refused to wake his friend to move his car when I got home from work, meaning I had to block him in with my car and then “couldn’t find” my keys to move it himself so “had to” wake me to move my car. All through this I was accused of being inconsiderate for parking behind his friend and for trying to “control his life” telling him he couldn’t have friends over in his own home! Apparently then all his friends were telling him to get rid of me because I was such a controlling selfish bitch. Ugh! Sleep deprivation is the absolute best strategy to destroy someone and they know it.

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  16. I’m dealing with this right now. I just recently became aware of NPD and finally understand what’s been going on for the last 3 years. We have a young daughter and I’m up with her every morning around 6am and work all day. By the time she goes to sleep around 8pm I’m exhausted. And despite me saying how tired I am every day, inevitably, I’m woken up every single night now. Anything from shaking pill bottles loudly, shining bright lights by the bed because he’s looking for something, dropping something loudly on the floor, blowing his nose loudly, hitting me in the face with a pillow, farting loudly, walking/stomping loudly in and out of the bedroom pushing the door into the wall so it slams, etc. Its something every single night now. There’s been more of this recently because he knows I’m at the end of my rope and so he’s pretending to work on things to make things better between us. He’s just forced to make his manipulations more covert, like waking me up every night, instead of what they have been (arguing for hours about how everything is my fault, name calling, constantly lecturing me about all of my character flaws, etc.). He’s the king of plausible deniability. I mean, I would sound like a ridiculous nag if I tried to explain to someone how all of his benign sounding behavior, taken in isolation, is really designed to keep me exhausted and under his thumb.

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  17. Are you ready for this? As a mom, with a son who had asthma, I became a very light sleeper, over 20 years. Now, when I fall asleep on the couch, my NPD boyfriend, has the nerve to ask me if I am sleeping. “Are you sleeping?”

    Are you coming to bed? Over and Over. He stands over me and shakes the covers over his head to recover me. I hold the covers down with all my might, so he understands, I don’t want to wake up or loose the body heat.

    Like the other ladies, once I’m up, that’s it. I will be tossing and turning until sunrise. But, he will be snoring away like a beast.

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  18. My Narcissist, whom I left in 2014 had patterns like doing the laundry at 10pm – the machine would then spin at around 12-1am and shake the house remarkably – not very solid floors, it made the pictures on the wall rattle. Another of her patterns was to change the sheets of the bed at 11pm, when I am already trying to find rest in it. She also had a sleep pattern where she spend her nights with household and came to bed past 2am. There was absolutely no reason for that, as she was not working more than twice a week for 2h each. Of course I had to be thankful to her about her sacrifices – I often had the impression she was doing all the household intentionally late so that I had to witness her activity when I came home from work, and she did them especially intense when I did not pay enough attention.

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  19. I had to be on my job at 5:00am. Usually home by 3:00pm. His job started at 9:00am-6:00pm. I had worked half the day before he rolled over. I just wanted to be in bed by 7:00pm most nights. He would blast the tv, turn lights on. When he go ally came to bed, he would bounce to wake me up. I would get up, because I was awake and couldn’t go back to sleep. So I usually went ahead got ready for work, and did a little housework. Never again, I finally kicked him to the crub. Now I rest when I want to, sleep all day if I am off. Feels good! No one will ever do that to me again.

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  20. I once studied sleep deprivation because this country esteems “workaholism” and sleep deprivation can cause death (though its not a leading cause) if you’re trying to drive sleep deprived. One guy drowned sleep deprived falling asleep on a floaty in his pool. One of the major things that galvanized wake up call for me to stand in decision of divorce of his leaving me was discovering narcissists will openly state dreams of you doing to them what they’re dwelling on doing to you as diversion projection. Mine had years of martial arts training with a collection of various level belts. Glad to be alive.

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  21. That’s so true. I’m having the same problem, not with a husband but a family member who shares my house. They wake me up every few hours and demand that I stay up all night and watch TV with them even though I get up much earlier than they do. They say that my going to bed when I want throws off their “schedule.” I thought I was going to die of exhaustion last year because I never got to sleep more than two hours at a time. Now I’ve had it. She tries to stop me going to bed at a decent hour every night and I just ignore her. She gets very passive aggressive and nasty though. Thanks for sharing. It helps to recognize the pattern.

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  22. Sounds like my mother, if she’s miserable then the whole house has to be miserable with her. I need a still and silent house in order to sleep at night, and she knows this….but doesn’t give any sort of a shit. Thankfully I’m going to get guardianship over her crazy ass so when she screws up and gets carted off to the psych ward…..again….her abusive butt won’t be allowed to return.

    Sleep at last, sleep at last…thank god almighty….there will be sleep at last!

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  23. My narcissistic spouse would wake me up to say “I love you” at all hours. Sometimes he would wake me up and make me go to the store for ice cream. It was easier to go than to hear him rant about not caring. He was a very early riser and would wake me up by playing loud music or singing in the shower. Sometimes I would wake up early to use the restroom and when I came back the bed would be made. He would just laugh and say, ” You need to get up anyway”.

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  24. My alcoholic Narcissistic boyfriend and the father of my son makes me crazy throughout the nights when he is drinking. I go To bed avoid him and he says up very late going in and out of the room and Turing on lights in the closet and hallway. I am the one who has to wake up the next day and care for our son while he is hung over, clean and get office work done. It makes me crazy and of course fights break out. When he is not drinking he want to go to bed early and complains when I am up cleaning up the kitchen after we have all finished dinner. I can’t stand it anymore and when it happened again last night, I kicked him out of my house. (I own the house). This is just one problem in a long list but purposefuy interrupting a Mother and our child’s sleep is abuse. It’s not normal and I did not grow up this way and don’t want my child to experience it anymore.

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  25. Thank you everyone for their stories . I’m just starting to realize what I’m dealing with . We have been on and off going on 3 years now . Everything I have read on a narcissistic is making my relationship make sense now . I’m truly heartbroke . I have left him several times but always felt I couldn’t live without him . My fear was to always love him . I like everyone else don’t understand their actions or why he was so cold hearted. We work at the same place so we are both up at 4:30 in the morning. But he worked 12 hours a day 3 to 4 days a week . and I work 8 , Monday through Friday . Before he gets home at 7 I always try to have the house clean , dinner made and I shower and make myself look presentable. But of course it wasn’t good enough, he always wanted me to do more when he got home . We never are in bed until after 11pm sometimes later . I would cry to him how tired I was but him being a narcissistic, he didn’t care . He would say I was lame and make me feel as if he would cheat on me because he had done that in the past , while his ex was sleeping . ( she was also pregnant at the time ) so I would keep myself up in fear . I couldn’t bare him being with someone else especially while I’m in the house and he’s outside in his shop . I could never ever go to bed without a shower . I was so dirty and nasty then . At one point he pushed me on the floor demanding me to take a shower . I could go on and on with stories . But right now I’m just trying to make myself know this is how he is and will never change .

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  26. I’m dealing with the same thing. I have been in this relationship for 18 years, and I feel so trapped. I just want to leave. Unfortunately, I have no family or friends to help me, because he’s done a fantastic job of isolating me from everyone. Any time I reach out in my community to try and leave, he always finds out. I am CONSTANTLY asking him to PLEASE STOP disturbing my sleep. I had to fight about it the other night. I was trying to sleep, and he comes in the bedroom, bounces himself down on the bed, turns on the tv really loud, starts crunching cookies and talking to me. I am CLEARLY trying to sleep! When he’s finished his cookies, he decides it’s a good idea to start touching me sexually. Finally, I just went ahead and had sex with him so he’d leave me the hell alone. Being mistreated this way does not make me attracted to him, and he doesn’t seem to understand why. I think about killing myself a lot. Sometimes it feels like it’s the only way out. But I can’t leave my children with him. I feel so hopeless. I do everything I can to avoid setting him off, but it doesn’t work. He gets mad about any and everything at the drop of a hat, and it’s always my fault. If I try to defend myself, then I’m crazy, and I need some help. Either that or he threatens to leave, or cheat on me but he never does (leave, that is). I’m so tired. I just want him out of my life. But it feels good knowing that I’m NOT crazy, and I’m not alone in this, even though I wouldn’t wish this quality of life on anyone.

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  27. I hope you can take control back and get out Yolanda. He has made you think you are helpless and have no choice but that is a lie. You and your kids can overcome and start over in time. How can you avoid setting someone off who is determined to be set off? It is impossible. I know this. Put your energy into your own growth and strength. Get away for a weekend and you won’t believe how much stronger you will feel. Sending love. It is hard to leave but harder to stay, in the end.

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  28. Yes I can relate….. My husband used to wake me up every night 3am to ask for a glass of water, or something silly…. And I too am a person who was once awake could not fall back asleep for hours, after water he would keep repeating I love u and how pretty I was and I just don’t realize how much he loved me for almost 30 minutes or so until I was wide awake….. Then I had to get up again at 5:30 to 6….. Kept happening for almost 1 and a half years when one day I shouted at him back when he woke me up that DON’T WAKE ME UP AGAIN….. stopped happening in that form, but took other forms after that…… What hurts me the most now is that he does the same to my infants, my son and daughter less than 2 and 1 year old…. Sometimes to get me to wake up if I resist, and sometimes just to do it deliberately to them….. Babies need their sleep or else it hurts them in ways we can’t begin to imagine…….

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  29. I thought I was going crazy! The latest is how my snoring is so awful he can’t sleep so he wakes me up a bajillion (it feels like that much) times to tell me to stop snoring. There are times I am already awake and I try to tell him I wasn’t sleeping and he tells me I was and was just snoring. How can I be awake and snoring? Wow crazy making at its finest! Mind you this is very recent and I’ve brought up to him it’s “all of a sudden” and he skirts around it not telling me why he never had a problem with this before. He also turns on lights when I’m sleeping, is loud, he only has gotten a bit better about that stuff since our son is sleeping in the next room and he doesn’t want to wake him up. Good to feel validated in my suspicions! Thank you for this article and everyone who left comments!!!

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  30. My mother has been in a marriage with my NARC Alcoholic father for nearly 60 years. How she stayed this long without smothering him with a pillow (joking) I’ll never know. He pulls those sleep deprivation tactics on her every single night, my family and I live in the same estate. Pretty much completely dependent upon him. So if mom nods off after an 8 hr day on the go (eating all meals out, so he can boss the waitstaff, of which he “obnoxiously tips” and daily shopping sprees and bar hopping in between so he can talk with the “babes” she’s tired at the end of the day.) Then he starts drinking and that’s when the real fun starts, he will talk about how wonderful he is, how accomplished and how handsome and then tell my mom how unappreciative she is, and she’s nothing without him and he could leave her for any woman. He’ll call her a hag, and insist she gets a facelift, of which he had, he did it for her, yeah right, and the least thing she could do is get one for him…since he doesn’t run “with dogs.” All because she nodded off?! Then he’ll get more abusive and you know the speil. He’ll belittle her until the late evening and then wake up at 5-6, because only loosers sleep their day away, and wake her up to do that routine all over again. If she says she’s tired, he tells her he’ll find a “young honey” to run around with. My mom commented once to me, that my dad would wake her every single am to have sex and then she had to go iron his clothing. She wasn’t allowed to do it the night before. EVERY act of “kindness” he says, is because he’s the ONLY one who cares about her. He won’t allow my mom to talk to me alone, cuz we’re conspiring to take his money SICK AF. What’s new?? That’s only a small example, my mother, brother and I endured a lifetime of abuse, for myself, still to this day. He’s sick and the community think’s he’s such a pillar. I laugh when people tell me how cute & charming my parents are…I really want to say my mother YES, but my father…F NO! My father is a classic example of a NARC. Case study. I thank God everyday my brother and I are like my mother, humble and family oriented. I asked my mom recently WHY she didn’t leave like 58 yrs ago…and she told me that he threatend to take my brother and I away and she could leave, but the kids stay! My mother was from a different country and had NO family here. She was and still is afraid of him. But if you can escape, please do!! He messed up all our minds and we still suffer to this day.

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    1. Oh and when he does “allow” her to sleep in, he’ll make sure to come tell me that there’s something wrong with my mom and when I check on her, he’ll accuse me of waking her up and tell my mom he has no idea why I woke her up. I’ll tell her, no dad asked me to come check on you, he’ll yell at me and deny and accuse me of trying to break their marriage up. Or he’ll say the classic, IM THE ONLY ONE WHO GIVES A SH*T AROUND HERE…WTF??! We are tools to them, tools and objects to make them feel good about their miserable tormented self. He told me that my mom is HIS WIFE and he’ll do WHATEVER he wants to do with her, because she is his…like chattel I presume. Seriously sick.

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  31. I can also relate to this. My Narcissist would tell me that I didn’t care about how I looked and that he wasn’t attracted to me so he would tell me that I needed to go to the gym. Because he was so needy and we had kids to take care of, the only time I could go was before work. I would get up at 5a.m. every morning to go to the gym. He didn’t wake up until almost 8 so he didn’t care that I had to get up early. He would watch tv very loudly until 11p.m. and sometimes later than that. After which he would spend another hour touching me to get me to initiate sex. If I fell asleep during watching tv with him he would get angry with me and tell me that I didn’t give him any affection or attention and that I didn’t care about our relationship. He would say my favorite line where he would compare our entire life together as ground hog day. I would go to the gym at 5a.m., go to work for 8 hours, come home and make dinner while helping the kids with homework and cleaning up, serve dinner, clean up after dinner, spend time with the kids, get everyone ready for bed, put the baby to sleep, then have to do my nightly routine of getting myself ready for bed and getting my stuff ready for the gym the next day because doing it in the morning woke him up. All the while he would sit upstairs and play video games and drink. His excuse was that he worked all day (like I didn’t right?). When it came to bed time I was beyond exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep. I would sometimes initiate sex right away just to get it over with so that I didn’t have to hear him and could get to sleep faster. Toward the end, when he would start touching me I was in full defiance mode where I was awake but would lay still as the dead and pretend to be asleep. Now that I am out (and it has only been 2 weeks) I am asleep by 9:30 with my kids asleep and all. It is glorious. He also used to keep me up fighting with him until the wee hours of the morning telling me how the issues in our life were all my fault just because I didn’t care enough about him. He couldn’t have sex with me because I didn’t do enough to turn him on and wasn’t sexy enough. I am so glad that I am out and all of you ladies have proven to me that I am not alone and that I am not crazy. So thank you.

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  32. My narcissistic+bipolar ex-boyfriend and I both used to work from home. He would happily ignore me most of the day but he regularly started “important” conversations just as I was about to go to bed at night and keep me up for hours and hours longer. These conversations consisted of mostly him talking, but I had to keep looking interested and contribute just enough to show how much I’m enjoying the conversation, but not too much.

    Even after he moved out he would call me and talk to me literally for *hours* at night (when he knows I have to get up at 6am) about something I had said days before that he took offense at (which wasn’t even about him).

    He once called me at 2am after I came back from holiday and had been travelling all day, and he felt completely hurt when around 4am I fell asleep for a couple of minutes while he was talking… And made me repeat the last thing I remembered!

    One more thing I just remembered… We used to like watching movies but as I was doing everything at home, work, housework and looking after my two kids and often his one, I was often exhausted and fell asleep on the sofa halfway through the film. He would get really annoyed by this and tell me that I might as well go to bed if I’m not going to watch it properly (this was not said in a caring kind of way, he really was annoyed by it).

    I feel sorry for him more than I am angry but I am only just starting to realise that all of these were forms of abuse… Thanks for sharing your stories!

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  33. Finally. I’d been trying to find out about this and really hadn’t come across anything about it until this. This is one of the few places I’ve found that talks about sleep deprivation as a domestic form of abuse in the home. I know most of the comments are about female victims but there are male victims out there too.

    Many people experience insomnia and have trouble falling or staying asleep, so imagine if your so called spouse, partner or loved one starts to purposely create dramas at bedtime or in the middle of the night just to keep you awake? Yep, this is happening to a male family member of mine, in a relationship with a woman who starts most of their fights at night and then continually berates, accuses, blames and basically puts him down for anything and everything including being a terrible parent to their child, and this will go on as she follows him from room to room until she manages to gets the response she wants out of him. She’ll also raise her voice loud enough so it wakes their child up and then blames its crying on the father. If she does fall asleep, when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she’ll wake him up on purpose either being loud in general, or wake him up to take care of the kid, which he does, or again, to basically berate him or any number of things. He looks worn out and tired every time I see him but more than that, looks anxious, tense and has lost his mojo he had before he met her.

    When he leaves the house, she’ll start blowing up his phone with text requests like when he’s driving to work, then goes out of her way to make it look like she’s being reasonable and he’s the one with the problem. He’s had to sleep in his car at night just to have some peace and get away from her. Combined with her keeping him awake at night and him leaving to sleep in his car, i know he is seriously sleep deprived.

    During the day, other things happen, such as when he tries to focus and work at his desk in order to get other work done. She interrupts him and tries to get him to do things that she could do herself and then gets upset when he starts to get annoyed. Their fighting has led to some physical altercations too. For example, him coming home at night, she starts becoming angry at the idea that he gets to go to work and leaves her at home to take care of things in the home including their child. They’ve had physical moments as he tries to get away from her, out the door and he’s said that she’ll scream or chase him to his car, about him being a bad father and so on. This has happened so many times,
    I personally think she doesn’t really want him to have a good relationship with his kid because she subjects both of them to this tyrannical behavior.

    Being around her, she’s good at presenting herself as being a doting mom and I think she is but it’s like she has it in for him. Other stuff she does is when they go places together for special occasions like family things or getting away for a weekend, she’ll go from happy to mean, start insulting him or complaining about his behavior or something and do pretty much the same thing she does at home once they’re alone. The whole family knows they have they’re problems but not to the extent of this kind of abuse.

    I’m writing this because I want my cousin to realize that this is abuse.

    Like I said, on the surface and in front of others, she acts pretty normal but then reserves the weird stuff for mostly behind closed doors. She sincerely seems like a nice person even on the quiet side but I’ve been around her enough to start to her slipping. She also tries to tell me and others things about him, like she’s called some of us in the middle of the night saying he’s gone, that he doesn’t come home and sometimes she’s sounded drunk. At first i was like what’s going on, then my cuz admitted to me what was happening.

    Since he’s been with her, he’s lost his ability to work and pursue clients, and function throughout the day. It’s at the point that his self-worth has diminished and he’s not even pushing himself like he use to.
    Unfortunately, he seems unable to make a decision when it comes to what he should do and appears to be stuck inside his own head. But I have to ask, what kind of good mom tells their child “daddy doesn’t care about us”? She picks up their child and says things like “daddy doesn’t love us” or something like that, just to bait and hurt him.
    My cousin looks so stressed out all the time. He says she drinks and it’s worse when she does but she’s also not a very supportive person and she makes everything about herself; her family, her bills, her problems, emotional trials, everything always goes back to her and then he gets targeted for blame of how she’s thinking and feeling. My whole family is worried about the effects she’s having on him and even more important what it’s going to do to their child in the long run.

    He’s not the kind of guy to tell people what he’s going through, but I’m going to give him this article to read and hope it will make the difference.

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    1. All of the types of abuse I discuss in this blog definitely happen to both men and women, and thank you for sharing this example! I hope that your cousin starts to realize what’s happening, and he is definitely going to need family support to get through things. ❤

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  34. My narc has done everything on here and then some. A CPL really cold winter nights he’d open up every window in the house and put the fans in the windows and take the blankets. Most nights he’d do a combo of things. He’d shake me awake every time I’d start drifting off. He’d turn on lights,shine flashlights in my face,push me off the bed, clap loudly, record me sleeping which would wake me with the flashlight and get me on video grumpily yelling at him, Blast the TV, bounce up n down in bed, sexually touch me in my sleep, tickle my face with my hair, suddenly start cleaning loudly at 4am (he never cleans)start a conversation with me,ask me random stupid questions,eat chips loudly, lose something and accuse me of having it and demand I get up to find it, loudly whisper terrible stuff in my ear,threaten me, get violent when I begged him to let me sleep. I could go on for days. I was down to 1-2 hours a night and it drove my brain to the breaking point and it went haywire. I became paranoid and irrational and ended up in the psych ward, which furthered my trama. All I needed was a safe place to rest with people I trusted. That wasn’t the case. It took me over a year after getting out to return to my happy self and get back to work. He turned everyone against me and swore I was getting a full night’s sleep and everything was “in my head” they now know the truth.

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  35. my NEX slept at 1am and asked for sex. If I refused he would argue and blamed me for not being a wife, diminished me etc all the way till 3 in the morning ended with me saying sorry angrily with tears. I had to give in and i was told to have sex with him with a happy face. He would say things like “you are always like this to ruin the night. why cant you just do it two hours ago so we didn’t have to fight. ” That left me a huge confusion thinking I was too weak to fight with him and I made myself suffer by not being submissive.

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