Lacking a good night’s sleep either during or after the divorce  or family law proceedings?  Are you experiencing a stressful divorce or family law matter?

Chances are, your sleep patterns have been disrupted by your divorce or family law matter. Here are some suggestions on how to restore the balance. 


Can’t Sleep PBedding

Health and Well-Being

O.K. I admit it: I’m a charter member of the Insomniacs Club. I’ve always been an insomniac. When you are awake in the middle of the night, it can feel like you’re the only person in the world not peacefully asleep and dreaming.

Even if you used to be a champion sleeper, the experience of divorce is traumatic enough to disrupt anyone’s sleep patterns. For some, this means sleeping all the time; for others, a good night’s sleep becomes a distant memory. And if you’re not sleeping well at night, you can’t be fully alert — let alone vibrant — during the day. It becomes a vicious circle: the worse you feel during the day, the less productive you are; the less productive you are, the more you worry at night; the more you worry at night, the harder it is to fall asleep; then the whole thing starts again when you drag yourself out of bed the next morning.

Emotional stress can be a major sleep-stealer: feelings of sadness or worries make it particularly hard to fall or stay asleep. And even if you manage to fall asleep, you may not be experiencing the “right kind” of sleep — the kind that refreshes and invigorates you.

Tips for a Good Sleep

Lighten up! A little sunshine every day helps to reset your body clock. During the long Central New York winter, try light therapy to help reset your body’s rhythm. If you’re a night-owl, sit under high intensity lights for a couple of hours immediately after getting up. If you’re asleep by 9 p.m. and up at 4 a.m. — even though your alarm is set for 7 a.m. — sit under the light in the evening, from 8–10 p.m. Light therapy may take a couple of weeks to start working, so don’t give up if you’re not “cured” immediately.

Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Following a regular schedule helps to regulate your body clock, so go to bed and get up at the same time every day — including weekends.

Work it out. Regular physical exercise promotes sleep. The best time to exercise is four to six hours before bedtime, since it results in falling body temperature (a powerful sleep cue) when you want to go to sleep. Exercising shortly before bedtime, however, can inhibit sleep because it can leave the body temperature too high.

Soak your cares away. A warm bath raises body temperature, which then falls, causing drowsiness.

Art and Music Therapy.  Take art or music classes or simply just dabble in the arts.  Go to art exhibits and concerts.  Let music and art become part of your daily life and you may find that your stress level is considerably reduced and joy finds its way back to you.  This will help you find a peaceful rest. I started art classes after age 50 and I love it.

Eat, drink, and be merry — but stop at least six hours before bedtime. One exception to this rule is a light carbohydrate snack (no protein, please), which tends to promote sleep. Alcohol might put you under, but it causes fragmented, non-restful sleep, and caffeine after early afternoon is right out.

Create a ritual. Train your mind to wind down by performing the same bedtime rituals every night.

Relax! Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. You can listen to audiotapes that guide you through the relaxation process, or ones with soothing music and/or sounds of nature.

Check your problems at the door. If you’re a late-night worrier (I belong to this club), take time to write down your problems and some possible solutions during the day — preferably several hours before bedtime. Keep a notebook and pen by the bed to jot down urgent thoughts.

Create a good sleeping environment. When you’re stressed out, your central nervous system is hyper-aroused. This makes it harder to get to and stay asleep, since external cues (noise and light particularly) can easily wake you up. Block external light and noise, using thick curtains or an eye mask and earplugs, if necessary. Your bedroom should also be cool, so turn down the thermostat and put a fluffy comforter on your bed.

Bed is where you sleep. Period. Don’t work, read, or watch TV in bed, and if you’re still tossing and turning after an hour, get up and move to another room. Read a boring book in your living room for a while, then go back to bed when you’re feeling sleepy. The only exception to this rule is if you’ve found a new partner: then bed is for sleeping and sex. Period.

Try herbal remedies — such as chamomile, passion flower, valerian root, or hops — for particularly stressful evenings. Before taking any medication — and this includes herbal medicines — discuss it with your family doctor.

If possible, avoid drugs that disrupt sleep, such as some kinds of painkillers, decongestants, asthma drugs, steroids, diet pills, and diuretics.

Ongoing Stress

The ongoing stress — such as facing the many different challenges of divorce? Just as love and marriage go together, so do stress and divorce. Except for the death of a spouse or child, divorce produces more stress that any other life event. It ranks so high because it includes so many major stressors — such as a change in finances and accommodations; sexual problems; and conflicts with ex-spouses, in-laws, and children, to name just a few.

If you find that stress and/or lack of sleep causing you to feel overwhelmed, see a professional or speak to your attorney about possible ways to address this.  Your health is the foundation of your well-being. Remember to take care of yourself during your divorce.