going to sleep upset with your partner

What To Do If You Can’t Sleep After A Fight with Your Partner

Last Updated on October 1, 2023 by Louise Carter

Late-night fights with a partner are near-inevitable. In today’s fast-paced world, we’re exhausted, sleep-deprived, and irritable by bedtime. One ill-advised comment can turn into a full-scale argument.

A study published in the Journal Nature found that the brain stores away negative experiences that are harder to forget when we sleep apart after a fight.

If you go to bed feeling emotional and angry, you’re significantly more likely to wake up annoyed.

How To Sleep After An Argument

Usually, the repercussions of an argument are worse than the fight. We spend hours overanalyzing our partner’s words and over-focusing on being right while not knowing what to do next.

By focusing on negative thoughts and specific events from the night, you’re not only putting yourself at risk of grogginess in the morning but also preventing yourself from thinking clearly.

It’s 3 AM, and you’ve finally stepped back and decided to sleep. The only issue is that your racing thoughts won’t allow it to happen. What should you do?

Acknowledge Your Concerns

You’ve had an enervating argument with your partner, and your laundry list of troubling thoughts isn’t enabling you to fall asleep.

The first step to restful sleep is recognizing when you’re worrying. While it’s obvious what’s troubling you in this situation, it helps to recognize the signs of stress.

You may have a negative trail of thoughts due to certain actions or words, or you may exhibit physical signs like muscle tension, a racing heartbeat, shallow breathing, and tossing and turning.

When you notice these symptoms, remember there’s nothing to gain. It would be beneficial if you slept, so staying up late and waking up without any energy won’t improve your relationship.

getting to sleep after a big row

Understand Your Stress Response

Your partner may say or do something to trigger a negative emotion that keeps you awake.

Understand that your body’s chemistry is evolutionarily designed to make you feel more alert during stress, enabling you to cope with difficult situations.

If you’re emotional, disengage from the fight, take some time off, and reflect on what’s happened.

Not all of us react to stress the same way. Therefore, it helps to determine your stress style, which is how you react to troubling situations.

During a stressful event, we enter fight-or-flight mode, where we either get ready to defend ourselves or flee the scene. In a fight, you may be the one who:

  • Feels sad and becomes withdrawn.
  • Gets agitated, mad, or angry.

Understanding your stress response enables you to use the right technique to simmer down during the heat of the moment, decreasing your negative thoughts about the argument.

Feeling Sad

If you’re the type who feels rejected, sad, upset, or tearful, calming techniques may not necessarily work. Instead, focus on tactics that’ll introduce positive energy, such as:

  • Happy music.
  • Dancing.
  • Stroking a pet.
  • Singing.
  • Sipping on some peppermint tea.
  • Showering.
  • Deep breathing.
  • Writing in your journal.
  • Reading a book.

Feeling Angry

If you find yourself slamming doors, banging on objects, or stomping, you’ll respond to calming techniques that quieten the mind, including:

  • Deep breaths.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Close your eyes and imagine being in a serene location, such as a beach or a lake.
  • Listening to rain sounds.
  • Light your favorite candles.
  • Drink a cup of warm herbal tea.
  • Taking a warm bath.
  • Petting your dog or cat.
  • Listen to guided meditation, like Headspace.

Practice these techniques before conflict arises. The next time you enter fight-or-flight mode, you’ll enter a calm and relaxed state that’ll allow you to have a more productive conversation.

Set Aside Time for Your Worries

Most of us find it beneficial to set aside time during the day to address their worries and plan solutions.

Having a set time when you’re free ensures you can give your thoughts undivided attention. Therefore, you don’t take time away from sleep by subconsciously contemplating them.

It helps to have a journal to document your concerns and deal with them the next day.

De-Stress with Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are a fascinating technology that uses the brain’s responsiveness to sound and puts you in deep relaxation.

The idea behind binaural beats is that when the brain is exposed to two separate frequencies in each ear, it perceives it as one and tunes to this new frequency.

A relaxing background sound or music often accompanies these frequencies. Just get your earphones and download a binaural beat app or search for binaural beats for sleep on YouTube.

Binaural beats change your brain’s extent of arousal. Listening to these sound waves slows your brain activity, lowering your anxiety and helping you enjoy deep sleep for longer.

Also, binaural beats may impact hormones that play a role in your sleep, including:

  • Melatonin: Natural sleep hormone.
  • Cortisol: High cortisol levels are associated with chronic stress and insomnia.
  • DHEA: A master hormone that controls other hormones. DHEA suppresses cortisol, thereby helping you maintain a normal circadian rhythm.

According to Dr. Vincent Giampapa of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine, an average of 97% of participants had increased melatonin levels after listening to binaural beats.

Furthermore, 70% experienced a drop in cortisol levels, and 68% showed increased DHEA levels.

Practice Deep Breathing

Many of us take shallow breaths when anxious, reducing oxygen flow to the brain and other vital functions, which makes our emotions feel more extreme.

Deep breathing directly counters the impact of stress on the brain and body. To perform a deep breathing exercise, breathe slowly through the nose and hold for a few seconds.

Breathe out slowly through your mouth and observe the sensations in your body. Pay attention to how your stomach expands and recoils as you breathe.

Change of Scenery

If you feel especially alert following an argument, try getting out of bed and entering another room with dim lighting. Now, perform a quiet and relaxing activity for 10-20 minutes.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing the muscles and releasing them to encourage these muscles to enter a relaxed state. Here’s how it works:

  1. Inhale, contracting one muscle group, like your upper thighs, for 5-10 seconds.
  2. Exhale and abruptly release that muscle group, relieving all its tension.
  3. Allow 10-20 seconds to relax and move on to the next muscle group, such as your buttocks.
  4. Pay attention to the different sensations in your body as you relax each muscle group. Imagery can be beneficial while releasing tension.
  5. Work your way up your body slowly in the same manner.

Avoid Stimulants

If you’ve had a stressful night and foresee another stressful day tomorrow, restrict your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Avoid them at least 4 hours before bedtime as they can make relaxing harder.

While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it suppresses your breathing and inhibits rapid eye movement or REM sleep. Alcohol interrupts your natural circadian rhythm, resulting in more sleepless nights.

How To Heal A Damaged Relationship

During a fight, there’s nothing more troubling than being wrong. This means you’ll drag the argument out for longer, only to find that it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong.

You’ve had a good night’s sleep and feel it’s time to discuss your concerns. The key to making amends is meeting in the middle with your partner.

You must step into your partner’s shoes, see their side of the argument, and understand their feelings. Understand that a big fight doesn’t necessarily mean a broken relationship.

Here are some ways to improve the relationship with your partner:

Listen To Your Partner

Next time you have a heated discussion with your partner, take steps to stop it from boiling into an argument. For starters, listen to what your partner’s saying.

Most conflicts arise from misconceptions and miscommunications. To avoid getting the wrong end of the stick about what the other person is saying, try understanding their perspective and be sure they know you understand. Disagreeing with someone shouldn’t always result in an argument.

Silence is powerful in this scenario. If your partner has something to share, avoid confrontation and listen to their point of view before suggesting anything further.

It’s also important to understand that agreeing or disagreeing is okay.

Be Honest With Yourself

Seeing where the other person is coming from can be more challenging as your argument worsens. Many of us find ourselves so focused on our side of the argument that it blinds us from the facts.

One of the steps to calming down after a fight is being honest with ourselves. Slow down, get some space, and think clearly about the argument, not just your version.

Don’t Avoid Your Partner

Building a wall is among people’s most common mistakes after a fight.

While giving yourself some time is okay, you should avoid ignoring them as it may create the impression that you’re trying to punish them. This can result in your partner holding back when they want to share their feelings with you about something in the future.

Instead of giving them the silent treatment, request some space for a few hours.

It’s Not About Who Is Right or Wrong

If you want to build a strong relationship with your partner, avoid parting company with the idea of always wanting to be right, especially during an argument.

Whether you believe you were right about the issues, it’s vital to understand how your partner feels about everything. You can be wrong about facts, but they can never be wrong about how they feel.

Don’t Use Their Words Against Them

Most individuals who make lists during an argument can never tell the other person what’s bothering them at that moment.

Therefore, if your partner says something that bothers you, tell them their words are troubling you. If you’re still annoyed by those words the next day, give yourself space before approaching them.

Continually bringing up an argument can lead to a vicious cycle with no solutions.

Don’t Just Say Sorry

Instead of asking your partner to leave you alone so that you can do something else, try sincerely apologizing with an explanation regarding what you’re talking about.

Add another part explaining how and why you won’t make that mistake again.

Gentle Touch

You may find that your partner responds more openly and calmly in the middle of a row if you touch them kindly to relax the two of you. This can be a gentle touch on the hand or a hug.

However, avoid this strategy if your partner resists touching during uncomfortable situations.

Don’t Make Excuses

Hundreds of factors can be blamed for causing an argument – a rough day at work, insufficient sleep the previous night, a headache, and tight deadlines.

A study by the University of California found that couples who didn’t get enough sleep were more likely to engage in arguments.

Whatever the reason is for your current mood, blaming something else isn’t fair on your partner. Let your partner know if you’re sad, hurt, angry, or upset.

This will help your partner understand that you may be more irritable in certain situations, such as after you get home from work.

Avoid Personal Criticisms

You may be better off avoiding certain things while fighting, like calling someone dumb. Other habits most couples should avoid are being defensive, stonewalling, and avoiding topics.

No Name-calling

Even if your mind revolves around the fight, it doesn’t mean you should mutter anything hurtful. Avoid calling a person a name because it makes it difficult for the other person to recover.

For example, if you had a fight over the budget for your vacation, avoid calling your partner cheap while going through your friend’s Instagram photos from their recent vacation.

Name-calling is a surefire way of starting a whirlwind of never-ending insults.

Don’t Just Have Makeup Sex

Once you’ve apologized, your partner may want to have sex. However, you may not be in the mood.

This doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t realize you’ve had a bad argument. Most men feel the need to have sex to feel close.

If this is the last thing on your mind, let him know. Hug your partner and tell him you’d prefer to make love tomorrow instead of declining without explanation.

Don’t Focus on the Cause of the Fight

Spend your energy on a solution, not what caused the problem, especially when the issue is resolved. Avoid replaying your partner’s mistakes in your head and focus on enjoying the rest of the evening.

Whether you’ve found a solution makes a good fight different from a bad one.

If you notice your partner consistently makes these mistakes, ask your partner about what’s going on non-judgmentally instead of giving them a “Not again!”

husband falls asleep after argument

Avoid Saying That You Didn’t Mean It

This is like using an eraser on permanent ink. Not only does this make you feel that they can get away with calling them names the next time they fight, but it also exacerbates the situation.

Saying you didn’t mean something keeps you in the past and distracts you from finding a solution to prevent arguments over the current situation.

If your partner says they didn’t mean it, you can tell them you believe them, but it hurt or disappointed you. Also, it’ll help to ask them how you would like them to behave in the future.

Don’t Give Yourself a Hard Time

While having no fights may sound like an ideal relationship, the reality is that we all want committed partners. Fighting is a sign that both parties are working things out.

When some people say they don’t fight anymore, it doesn’t mean they’ve stopped disagreeing, just that they’re letting their relationship go.

This is often the case before they have an affair or leave. Therefore, you care enough to resolve an issue, even with disagreements.

Cut the But

Consider removing the word “but” from your sentences.

Sometimes, we use “but” to show that we stand by our original opinion. Remove the word from your vocabulary, especially when developing a solution during an argument.

Find Common Ground

Try finding common ground with your partner that makes you feel better at the end of the argument. Exchange information until you reach that “Aha!” moment where the solution works.

Create A Happy Memory

After your conflict has been resolved, create a positive memory. Walk to your favorite ice cream store or coffee shop, check out a new hiking trail, or have dinner at a new restaurant.

Understand that sometimes you fight hard because you care. After creating a positive memory, you’ll notice that the rest of the week doesn’t become the week you had your big fight.

Moving forward, share the same bed and go to bed at the same time.