During the recovery period after a midlife divorce, sleep, sex or a pay raise are probably equally elusive. In a book called Midlife/NewLife, author Judith Wills explains that “52% of us would choose a good night’s sleep over sex or a pay raise. About two thirds of us have trouble sleeping at some time during our lives, and often this happens in the middle years.” During divorce, sex is usually not an option and it seems no one is getting a pay raise in this economy. So sleep is sometimes our choice by default.
This blog reminds me of those terrible nights at the beginning of my divorce when I had trouble sleeping every night. (I didn’t get back to normal for several years actually). I tried everything in the book. Early on, once my head hit the pillow, my mind sprang into high gear mulling over every terrible thing going on in my life.
I tried praying, reading calming thoughts, drinking warm milk (ugh), taking a warm bath (nice). I tried sleeping in my bed, in my son’s room when he was away at college, on the sofa, even on the screened-in porch. Nothing seemed to help that much. It probably would have helped for me to take a mild sleeping aid for a short time. (A psychologist friend of mine said that sometimes women going through divorce need something temporary to help them sleep instead of an anti-depressant.) But I was afraid to go there. I never brought it up with my doctor and I should have.
When we’re not sleeping it affects everything else we’re trying to do. We’re more irritable, have trouble making decisions, are physically exhausted and on and on.
Try a few of these things: eat a banana or a bowl of cereal or ice cream before bed. Calcium is supposed to help, as do walnuts, turkey and oats. Watching a funny movie might do some good, too. Getting a brisk round of physical exercise early in the day helps. Reserving 15 minutes or so to think about your problems sometime during the day allows you to tell your disruptive thoughts they will get their turn again tomorrow, but to go away at bedtime.
Every night when you get in bed, try to let God’s peace wash over you. It’s not a magic bullet for sleep, but give in to God’s promise of protection and care. You can be confident that peaceful more-regular sleep will return in it’s own sweet time. And since you’re probably not going to get sex or a pay raise in the next day or so anyway, a good night’s sleep is a worthy and beneficial goal for tonight, too. (Most Americans – even those who are not going through divorce – think that, too!)
“I will lie down in peace and sleep, for though I am alone, O Lord, you will keep me safe.” Psalm 4:8