Yes, according to "Sleepless Nights After Divorce May Be Tied to Blood Pressure Rise" published by US News & World Report on Tuesday, July 22, your divorce could kill you. However, the research he cites indicates that "sleep trouble may be one of the causes" of early death and other major health problems that can accompany divorce.
Sleep trouble during and after divorce is common. Separation and divorce sets off a tidal wave of change - physical, mental, emotional, social and existential. With all of the chaos, our bodies often respond by being hyper-alert when dealing with divorce stress. Being hyper-alert can make it very difficult to sleep.
If you're having trouble getting a good night's sleep, here are some ideas that just might help you calm your mind and body enough to get the rest, healing and rejuvenation that only a good night's sleep can bring.
- 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 divorce stress, 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. Divorce stress 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.
- Calm your mind. Divorce stress 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. By keeping a pad and pen by your bed you can jot down all those thoughts which 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. You can also calm your mind by reciting a mantra to yourself. My favorite mantra when I was going through my divorce was the first verse of the Serenity Prayer.