Divorce is one of the most stressful life events you can go through. And one of the most common symptoms of being stressed out is an inability to sleep well. Yet, sleep is one of the best ways to minimize the effects of stress by allowing your body and mind to recover. It can seem like you’re in a catch 22. You’re stressed out because of all the changes resulting from your divorce and really wanting a good night’s sleep (or two!), but you’re so stressed out and your mind never slows down long enough to get the sleep you’re craving which makes you more stressed. ARGGH!
I want you to know there is hope for a good night’s sleep. These are my top 5 tips for getting the rest you need to help you more effectively and easily deal with the stress of your divorce.
- Make sure your room is a place where (theoretically) you can easily go to sleep. Is your room dark enough? If not, get yourself a sleep mask. Is the temperature of your room conducive to sleep? If not, add a fan or more blankets or put on a pair of socks. Is your room quiet enough or too quiet? If not buy some ear plugs or listen to some music or put the TV on a sleep timer.
- Make sure your bed is welcoming. Especially when you’re dealing with the stress of divorce, your bed can feel empty. While I don’t recommend finding someone to fill it until after you’ve finished the bulk of your healing, I do recommend cuddling with a pet or even getting a body pillow and tucking it tightly next to you.
- Get your body to relax by doing some exercise daily. The stress of divorce dumps all kinds of hormones into your blood stream. The purpose of these hormones is to give you energy. If you’re not using up that energy, you’re going to be stuck with the buzz at night when you’d rather be sleeping. A great exercise for dealing with the stress of divorce is to get outside in nature and go for a walk, a jog, a run, a bike ride or even go skiing. Being in nature and active releases a lot of stress and will allow you to relax and fall asleep at night.
- Keep a notepad and pen by your bed. The stress of divorce can also keep your mind running at a million miles an hour. You’ve got thoughts and worries about remembering to do things, about things you’ve already done and then there are all the thoughts about trying to understand why your ex, the person who promised to love you, is doing what they’re doing. Actually taking the time to write all those thoughts down will stop your worry about trying to remember all the things you want to do, will stop your worry about what you’ve already done and help put into perspective that your ex just isn’t the person you married any more.
- Develop a night time routine conducive to sleep. Divorce is disruptive to everything in your life including your nightly routines. Now’s the time to create a new nurturing routine that help you prepare for a restful and restorative night’s sleep. As inspiration for creating your routine, here’s mine. At about 9:00pm, I’ll get my exercise clothes laid out for the next morning, floss and brush my teeth, lay out my clothes for the next day, wash and moisturize my face, put a glass of water on my nightstand, crawl into bed, write in my gratitude journal, turn on my meditation recording, turn out the light, put on my eye mask and then drift off to sleep.
Following these tips helps most of my clients start to get more restful sleep at night. If after a couple of weeks you’re still not sleeping well, it’s time to visit your doctor and see what suggestions they have.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Evaluate your bedroom. Make sure it’s a place you’re comfortable sleeping. If it isn’t, do what you need to do to make it that way.
Grab some extra pillows and put them where you can easily get them if you decide you need them during the night.
Schedule some daily exercise outdoors. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how big a difference this can make in helping you to relax.
Put a pen and notepad by your bed. If it’s already there and waiting for you, you won’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night tonight and search for either one.
Develop your nighttime routine. A great starting point for your routine, after you’ve done the previous steps, is to decide on a consistent bed time. A consistent bed time works for kids and adults too with helping to prepare your body for sleep.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach.