A divorce is one of the more stressful experiences people go through in their lives. It involves changes in relationships with loved ones, the disruption of routines and the adjustments of schedules. For some, the stress of a divorce steadily declines once it’s finalized. But others continue to deal with anxiety and tension for weeks and months after their divorce.
One of the most common problems many divorcees experience is the lack of quality sleep. The stress they feel during the divorce proceedings may keep them up at night. Others find that the inability to get a good nights rest persists long after the divorce is finished. Research shows that this long-term lack of sleep can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure.
Doctors point out that sleep problems are pretty normal for the first month or so after the separation and as the divorce proceedings begin. It’s an adjustment that most people are able to deal with. It’s when these sleep problems continue for an extended period of time that the red flags go up. Experts say this can be a sign of depression. If left unchecked, it can play a significant role in the body’s ability to fight off sickness and disease.
A recent study reported on the quality of sleep of almost 200 participants who had recently either separated or divorced from their spouse. They specifically kept an eye on the correlation between lack of sleep and blood pressure. What they found is that the longer a person’s sleep problem persisted after their separation or divorce, the more likely they experienced high blood pressure.
The magic number seems to be 10. The study found that people experiencing lack of sleep up to 10 weeks seemed to be okay. It was after they hit that 10-week mark that the blood pressure problems began to manifest themselves. In fact, the research was able to show that “each standard deviation increase in sleep complaints corresponded to a roughly six unit increase in subsequent systolic blood pressure.” (Health Psychology)
For people who find themselves losing sleep after a divorce, it is recommended that they seek out cognitive behavioral therapy, make adjustments in their daily schedules that will help promote healthy sleep, or find better ways to relax at bedtime.