A guest blog by: Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org
No matter how amicable the divorce, the changes and loss of separation are stressful. Stress can keep you awake late into the night making it difficult to function during the day, which in turn can bring more anxiety. Sleep deprivation can make facing challenging circumstances and significant life changes even harder.
Lack of Sleep Creates Problems that Magnify Stress
Sleep deprivation often creates new problems that only add to your stress. For example, the immune system cannot function properly because your body does not have time to heal and rejuvenate itself. Those who face chronic sleep loss find themselves sick more frequently, and they tend to stay sick longer.
Sleep deprivation causes neurons in the brain to slow down, which hinders decision-making skills and reasoning abilities. Mood changes, including irritability, anxiety, and aggression are also a side effect of sleep loss. When you’re dealing with a divorce, you need the clear thinking and calm mind that come with adequate sleep.
Here’s the good news—you can control your sleep habits. By so doing, you’ll start getting the full seven to eight hours of sleep you need, giving you the ability to face stress and reduce its effects.
Before you build better sleep habits, you’ll need to create the right sleep conditions. Your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary, a place of calm where you can escape from the stress of your life. Everything in the room from the artwork on the walls to the blackout curtains over the windows should contribute to a sleep-promoting atmosphere.
At night, your bedroom should be kept dark, quiet, and cool with the temperature somewhere between 60-68 degrees. Even more important than the temperature of your bedroom is your mattress. Be sure your mattress supports your preferred sleep position and doesn’t have lumps or sags that leave you achy and sore in the morning. If you need to buy a new mattress, it’s a good investment in your comfort.
With the right conditions, you can start to develop habits that will help reduce stress and let you get the rest you need.
- Meditation and Yoga: Meditation and yoga have both been shown to help reduce stress, inflammation, and produce better moods. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, has been shown to cause a “relaxation effect,” wherein your heart rate and blood pressure decrease.
- Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: A relaxing bedtime routine can help you relieve tension and stress before lying down in bed. Your bedtime routine can include anything that helps you relax like reading a book or taking a warm bath. Be sure to perform the routine at the same time in the same order each day. (Both meditation and yoga can be included as part of a bedtime routine.)
- Consistent Bed and Wake Time: A consistent bedtime helps to establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle. If you’re under a lot of stress, keeping a regular schedule can help your body more readily respond to the release of sleep hormones. Along those same lines, try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends to keep your body in tune with your sleep schedule.
- Avoid Screens and Stimulants: When you’re struggling to sleep, there are certain things you should avoid close to bedtime. The caffeine found in coffee, soda, and energy drinks temporarily blocks the effects of sleep hormones.Therefore, they should be avoided for at least four hours before bed. Electronics give off a bright blue light can suppress the release of melatonin, an sleep-inducing hormone. Shut your screens off at least an hour before bed.