A divorce is an unsettling event in our lives. There are so many things at stake, so many people involved, so many questions unanswered and problems to be solved. It may mean a stressful move, a court battle, parting of friendships, and financial strain.
It is no surprise then that our sleep suffers. Many of us in times of high-stress experience sleep disturbances that leave us worn down and less resilient for the very battles we are fighting. It becomes a vicious cycle–the less sleep we get, the more stressed out we are. The more stressed out we are, the less sleep we get.
Luckily, you are not powerless to change this vicious cycle.
There are several things you can do to increase your chances of a good night’s sleep in spite of divorce stress.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Engaging in the same series of rituals each night does more than just relax you–it programs your body to sleep. Taking a warm bath, reading a book (being careful to avoid screens like laptops and tablets as this can disrupt sleep) and listening to relaxing music can all set the stage for a good night’s rest. Doing these rituals every night will prepare you to sleep and your body will learn to expect it. Practicing goes a long way.
Avoid These Things at Bedtime
Fatty food, caffeine, and difficult or heated conversations are all things to avoid as your bedtime approaches. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones should all be turned off a minimum of thirty minutes before bedtime. The blue light emanating from these devices has been known to disturb circadian rhythms–the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. Fatty foods can cause indigestion, and make sleep uncomfortable. It is suggested that you should avoid intake of caffeine within four hours of bedtime, but sensitivity to it varies among adults.
Improve Your Sleeping Environment
The most obvious improvement you can make in your bedroom is your bed. If your mattress is old or not suited to your needs, you aren’t going to get good sleep no matter what you do. If you can’t afford to replace your mattress, try adding a mattress topper to improve the surface you sleep on.
Stress often affects the neck and shoulder areas, so be sure that you have a pillow that supports your head properly. A contoured pillow will provide your head, neck, and shoulders with the support they need while not breaking the bank. If you are regularly waking up with a stiff neck, it is advisable to get a more supportive pillow.
Avoid working in your bedroom if you can–your room should only be a place of quiet rest. If you sleep better in darkness, consider purchasing blackout curtains that shut out the light.
Use Natural Sleep Aids
There are a lot of potential sleep aids that are natural and don’t require a prescription. Essential oils like lavender can be applied to the pillow or diffused in your bedroom. Chamomile tea right before bed can lend a sense of overall calm–adding it to your bedtime routine can be very helpful. Melatonin, a hormone found naturally in the body, is also a natural sleep aid and many swear by its ability to put them to sleep. White or pink noise (ambient noise) can also be played in your bedroom while you sleep. Guided meditation can be helpful in relaxing and promoting a great night's sleep, also. Much like any regular bedtime routine, the more you use it, the more your body will equate the noise with sleep.
Write in a Journal
If you find yourself lying awake at night unable to sleep because you are worried about the stressors in your life, journaling might help. Writing your worries and feelings down in a journal kept by your bedside may be enough to temporarily get them out of your head so you can get some rest. Quiet reflection on paper could help you work through issues and leave you with less to worry about when the lights go out.
Sometimes divorce is just about hunkering down and weathering the storm. And if you’re getting the right amount of sleep, your body is simply better equipped to weather it well.