Divorce Keeping You Up at Night? Try This Instead

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Think you’re alone? Think again. The stress from your divorce can definitely cause insomnia, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Even if you’ve never experienced regular insomnia, situational stress makes it that much harder for you to fall asleep and stay in dreamland. Bottom line: Stress causes hyperarousal, messing with the balance between sleep and wakefulness. Of course, while you should always consult your healthcare provider or therapist if you’re experiencing ongoing sleeplessness, here are some ways to get some shut-eye—and engage in self-care while you’re going through your divorce.

1. Shut down your smartphone, tablet, and TV about an hour before bed. Checking the latest political news or checking what your ex is posting on social media definitely isn’t going to calm your stress down. You probably also know that the light emitted from these screens keeps your brain active, so it’s even harder for you to fall asleep. Tip: It’s also a good idea to dim your house lights about 60 minutes before shut-eye.

2. Clear your palate. If you can, avoid coffee, nicotine, alcohol or sugar-laden food within three hours of hitting the pillow. Otherwise, you might find yourself waking up throughout the night.

3. Create your own bedtime ritual. In the 30 minutes before you hit the hay, plan out your routine—whatever makes you feel the most relaxed—for example, enjoying a hot shower or bath and then reading a chapter of your latest, favorite book in bed.

4. Journal out your day. Take a few minutes in the evening to write about what happened during your day—the good, the bad and the ugly—and how those events made you feel. Some people even like to end their journaling session by reading a short, inspirational meditation, or something that makes them laugh.

5. Try adult coloring books. These books have tons of pages with lots of detail and tiny areas to color that can take you hours to complete, recommends Gaylene Gomez, NNCP, C.H.N., a holistic nutrition coach for women and owner of Compass Rose Nutrition and Wellness. You can always opt for something simple, like children’s coloring books too, if you want. The idea’s the same: Repeated movements and focusing on the art you’re creating can help clear your mind.

6. Keep your sleeping space dark and quiet. Use blackout curtains and a white-noise machine or fan to keep outside lights and noise to a minimum.

7. Try deep breathing. At the foundation of almost all types of calming meditation is your breath, says Dr. Urszula Klich, a clinical health psychologist, speaker, and author. One very simple way to start meditation is to simply sit and let your attention go somewhere where you just experience your breath going in and out of your nose, or the feeling of your abdomen rising and falling.

8. Use a mantra. Lots of us play “I’m not good enough” thoughts in our minds, especially during a split. Mantras are great for reversing these thoughts and increasing self-esteem, says Jill Howell, MA, ATR-BC, LPC, a registered, board-certified art therapist, licensed professional counselor based in Pennsylvania.

Rule of thumb: Create a mantra around what you’re struggling with most, but don’t use negative wording. (Wrong: “I will stop worrying about my divorce.” Right: “I am peaceful and calm.”) Howell often tells parents to say, “I’m a loving and patient parent”—this helps with any feelings of doubt you may have during your divorce process.

9. Take a break if you still can’t sleep. If you’ve been awake for more than 30 minutes, eyes peeled and staring at the ceiling fan, give yourself a break. You can even get out of bed and do something relaxing like a short meditation or even reading, in dim light.

10. Check out 1AMClub.com. This welcoming online group and online forum for people who are divorcing provides inspiration and companionship 24 hours a day, so if you’re sleepless in your neck of the woods, you can login and share your thoughts with others. While it’s normal for worries and fears about your divorce to keep you up at night, remember that you have a support network in your family and friends, and members of your professional team, like your attorney or therapist. And if you don’t—set up that support network.

If you need help with a family law matter, our attorneys at Smedley Law Group can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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