Question: On the weekends I spend the night with my boyfriend at his house. He is 25 years old. Throughout the day everything is going well and there is no problem but when its time for bed his mood changes when he sleeps. When we lay in bed and he falls asleep and when I begin to rub his face or touch his hair or rub his feet with mines he get aggressive or irritated and sometimes brush me off, so I just leave him alone and do not bother him.
When he wakes he asks me was he being aggressive or rude, I responded yes, then he goes on to apologize. He stated that he did not do it knowingly or consciously, and he do not know why he gets like that. So my question is: when I try to touch him or caress him when he sleeps why does he get aggressive or irritated without being consciously aware that he is doing it? What causes him to act that way? and Why does he not know why he get that way?Can you answer any of these questions it will be greatly appreciated, Thank you and God Bless.

Answer: Hi Theresa, thanks for writing in and asking this. The periods that we transition from wake to sleep are very unique times in our lives because we are quite literally transitioning from a conscious state to a mostly unconscious state. Different people respond differently to this transition. Sometimes, when someone is abruptly woken, even by something as gentle as a caress, the individual can go through what is called sleep inertia, a sort of confusion, lack of fine motor skils, and grogginess that can manifest itself as irritation. In addition, memory is often not retained for events that occur right around the time we fall asleep, a phenomenon known as retrograde amnesia, which you can learn more about using the link.So we’re not always conscious and fully aware of the things we do right around the times we transition from sleep to wake or wake to sleep, and we don’t always have memory for them or know why we did them. His body may just be automatically responding in a way that tries to preserve his sleep so he gets his rest.Hope this helps at least a little bit. You can learn more about the moment of sleep onset here, which may shine some more light on this behavior for you.

Thanks for your question and good luck,