The title of the article may have confused you a little. It can be surprising to hear that something such as sleep deprivation is considered a manipulation tactic. There really isn’t a direct connection between sleep deprivation and manipulation. Therefore, you probably never thought about it until seeing this article. But still, if you’ve ever been in a situation like this or if you’re still experiencing it, it won’t be too hard for you to notice.
The fact is narcissists and other toxic people really do try to ruin their partners’ sleep schedules in order to be able to control them better. If you’d ask me, this emotional and psychological abuse tactic is just as systematic as gaslighting. And unlike gaslighting, it starts showing its effects quite fast.
Ruining someone’s sleep schedule deliberately or causing them to sleep poorly has a very simple reason: Being able to control them easier.
Narcissists can do that by delaying your sleep. If you’re sharing a house, they can start a random conversation or create meaningless drama right when you’re about to go to bed. Then they can present something you were supposed to do as an excuse, they can advise you to take care of that first or suggest watching a movie together before bed. If you live elsewhere, they can call you in the dead of night and try to keep you occupied for hours. You might have a very important meeting or an exam in the morning. But they don’t seem to care much about that. They can insist that there’s something very important they need to talk to you about, or they can try to rationalize the situation by saying they can’t spend enough time with you these days.
They can do it by interrupting your sleep as well. They can wake you up in the middle of the night and start an argument. It doesn’t even need to be anything important. If you tell them that this isn’t the right time for this, they can accuse you of ignoring the problem or insist that this needs to be solved right now. They can call you in the middle of the night to wake you up. They can either make up a random emergency situation or interrupt your sleep for something quite insignificant. Or, they can wake you up for intercourse. Even if you’re too tired and unwilling, they can insist on it. And if you refuse anyway, they can guilt trip you.
On the other hand, even if they successfully disturbed and annoyed you before and during sleep, they can do quite the contrary in the morning. Right when you were about to leave the bed, they can hold you and tell you not to leave just yet or call in sick. No matter where you’re supposed to be that day, they can try to keep you in bed a bit longer and cause you to delay your personal or professional tasks for the day.
As a result?
When we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, our physical and mental health can be affected negatively. Because we couldn’t get enough rest, we can have a hard time thinking logically during the day. Therefore, our decision making mechanism doesn’t work properly. We can let our partner decide on important things on our behalf.
We can get more impulsive, aggressive and stressed out. Impulsiveness can get us in a lot of trouble. Especially the nervous breakdowns and sudden temper tantrums can make us look like the actual problematic party in the relationship. This will serve the narcissist well in the future and make them look innocent in the eyes of others.
We can have a hard time keeping our emotions stable and get uncharacteristically sensitive. Even the smallest things may affect us badly and even make us cry. Our tolerance for stress can drop dramatically.
We feel drowsy all the time. We feel drained both physically and mentally. We can start avoiding a lot of activities we used to enjoy, and distance ourselves from social gatherings.
Our memory can fail us. Sleep depravity affects our memory both short and long term. Not trusting our memory enough will leave us more vulnerable against what other people may say and cause us to easily believe what we hear.
It can cause our concentration and motivation at work to drop. We start having trouble concentrating on our tasks. It can also decrease our problem solving skills and imagination. This can affect our financial status as well.
As I’ve mentioned at the beginning, even though sleep depravity isn’t a direct manipulation tactic; it can leave us much more vulnerable against actual manipulation methods and controlling behavior. And it can damage our career, academic success and overall relationships in the long run.
Narcissistic relationships can damage our self-worth and self-care so badly that we can find ourselves unable to perform the simplest things such as sleeping and eating enough. May we never compromise ourselves for any kind of relationship and always be aware of our own value…
You can also find the articles on https://medium.com/@narsistsiz:
Nih. “How is the body affected by sleep deprivation?”. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-deprivation.
Out Of The Fog. “Sleep Deprivation”. Access 4 November, 2015. https://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/11/4/sleep-deprivation.
You can also check out my other articles on manipulation tactics: