After a divorce, 3 a.m. can turn into the cruelest hour. You want nothing more than to sleep. But the questions of what to do now that you are alone won’t go away. Anxiety and insomnia are not unusual when your life has gone through such major changes. You may be overwhelmed by stress as you spend the nights awake and your days exhausted. Worrying thoughts are normal. Will you find reliable daycare? Are you earning enough money to meet the rent payment? What happens with the children during the holidays? Questions invade your sleep like an out-of-control tsunami.
Your mind keeps replaying the same questions and thoughts without providing you with any peace. You keep wondering what you might have done differently. And you have no idea how to face the future as a single. It is easy to see how sleep can become elusive. We can keep busy during the day and avoid thinking about some of our problems. But at 3 a.m., nothing stands between us and stress but lack of sleep and scary darkness.
The problems brought on by the divorce can prevent our minds from falling asleep naturally. We have trouble reaching a healthy REM sleep because our emotions are out of control. Without restful sleep, post-divorce stress will only increase. In severe cases, it can lead to heightened blood pressure and/or weight gain. When our mind suffers, our body suffers, as well.
Tips on Falling Asleep
There is very little that will alleviate the natural pain of divorce. However, you are not helpless. There are things you can do to get your mind and sleeping habits back on track.
Talk to a therapist.
Many people resist the idea of sharing their innermost negative thoughts with a stranger. They feel too ashamed and guilty. But a neutral third party that listens without making judgments can be a true balm for the stress you are experiencing. A cognitive therapist can help you clarify those thoughts that are keeping you awake and help you replace them with more beneficial thoughts. Your situation will likely not change immediately, but a helpful therapist can help you shift your mindset from negative to positive. Positive thoughts rarely rage through our minds at 3 a.m.
Check your bedtime rituals.
When we live with pain, we frequently reach for alcohol, coffee, and unhealthy foods. Or we stay up late watching some romantic show for comfort. Alcohol can easily interfere with our sleep pattern, either keeping us awake or waking us up. Many of us use that awake time to check our laptops and smartphone. But these devices can also disrupt our sleep with a disturbing blue light. It is best to avoid alcohol and your computer for at least an hour before your bedtime. If you must watch TV, find something peaceful, such as a quaint nature show that will not cause you any stress. Strive for eight hours of sleep. If you awaken during the night, add an extra hour and try for nine hours. Sleep is essential at this point in your life.
Do what relaxes you.
A bit of light reading before bedtime will calm the tsunami in your mind, distract you from your stress, and help you doze off. Make sure it isn’t a thriller that will place your mind and emotions on overdrive. Pick something humorous. Laughter and stress are usually incompatible. A relaxing, fragrant bubble bath can wash away some of the stress of the day and help you fall asleep
Enjoying a soothing tea before bedtime (perhaps while you are reading) can lull you gently to sleep. Look for teas containing chamomile, lavender, or valerian. As a natural sleeping aid, melatonin is quite popular. You might also enjoy a few drops of lavender in your diffuser or on your pillow. It is a very relaxing fragrance. If these natural remedies do not help you, see your doctor. Sleep is too important to leave to chance. Prescription medicine for a short period of time may provide you with needed sleep. He or she can also prescribe something if your anxiety or depression turns out of control.
Talk to Yourself
Whether you realize it or not, you are already talking to yourself. When you think thoughts such as, “My life is a disaster,” or “I’m just a loser and will never find love,” these thoughts seem real to you. The great news is that you can control your thoughts. When you find yourself focusing on negatives, make a conscious effort to flip to a positive thought, such as, “I can handle what is ahead,” or “I’m beginning a brand-new chapter in my life. It’s exciting.” Plan your next vacation or dinner with friends. The more you infuse your thoughts with positivity, the more you eliminate stress and the 3 a.m. horrors.
Divorce and insomnia are very much related. As soon as you realize that you can take control of your life and actions, insomnia will slowly fade away. A divorce will inevitably bring major changes, but you don’t have to lose any sleep while you adjust to your new life.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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