Oh the pain of heartbreak! Sleep issues after a breakup are just one of the many challenges we have to overcome once a relationship ends. It’s a big deal. You’ve gone through a big life change, so there are bound to be a lot of thoughts running around your head as you try to process everything. Getting a good nights sleep is essential for your healing, because with a lack of it, your emotions will just go through the roof and you won’t be able to think clearly or rationally. Yet being able to fall asleep is easier said than done, which is why sleep issues after a breakup are so common. As a result, it’s easy to get stuck in an unproductive state.
So what can you do? How can you get a good night’s sleep again? Well it may not be an instant thing, unfortunately. Time will ultimately make things easier, especially as you work through the grieving process. However, I do have a few recommendations in the meantime. Things that will help you to get a better sleep – even if it’s just a slight improvement. (We’ll take what we can right now, hey?!) And this is coming from someone who is actually a bit of an insomniac, but is working on it daily. So I know how you’re feeling, okay?
- Calm Down
The more stressed you get about not being able to sleep, the harder you make it to actually get to sleep. Which is why you have to try to stay level headed – as difficult as that may be. When you feel yourself getting panicked or frustrated, try a relaxation or breathing exercise. Guided ones also help. Here, let me give you an example:
Find what works for you, but if you’re having sleep issues after a breakup, the first thing to do is to not panic. Deep breaths. It’s okay. You won’t be up all night, I promise.
Another way to stop yourself freaking out, is to make sure you don’t look at the clock. If you’re clock-watching, that will just make you even more conscious of the time you’re lay there awake. So make sure there’s no lights on, your phone is far out of reach and you’re unable to easily check.
2. Push Your Thoughts Out Your Head, Literally
When we’re dealing with a breakup, we don’t want to suppress how we feel. We want to process things properly. But there’s a time and a place for that. And bed time is certainly not either of these. So a little thing I find quite effective is the Push Away Technique. I don’t know if it’s a real thing or something I just made up, but basically:
- Lie on your back
- The goal is to have a completely clear mind, where you’re thinking about nothing.
- Focus first on your breathing. In and out, in and out. And try to slow this down gradually. Inn and ouut. Innn and ouuut. That’s better.
- Take deep breaths.
- When you feel a thought coming into your head, interrupt it by literally visualising the words becoming objects in your mind. Put them at the top of your mind and then push them away.
- The push isn’t forceful. The words are more like clouds.
- In your mind you should literally see your hands come up and gently push these cloud thoughts from your mind, so that you see them drifting off. Watch them go.
- Once they have gone, you can focus on your breathing once more. In and out.
- And again, whenever new thoughts come into your mind, do exactly the same thing once more.
You can keep this process going as long as you want. It’s kind of like counting sheep. It works well, because it doesn’t require a lot of concentration (just don’t get overly imaginative whereby you end up seeing yourself karate chopping those thoughts here there and everywhere – that would not be quite so calming!) but it gives you enough focus to stop your mind running wild.
3. Do What You Can In The Day To Make It Easier To Sleep At Night
If you want to tackle your sleep issues after a breakup, you have to do everything you can to help. This means talking about the things that are on your mind, getting the things done that you know you need to do (so that you can then go to bed guilt-free) and doing things that are good for you…
Like spending time with friends and family so that you’re not isolating yourself. Or speaking things through things with a therapist. You may also want to write a diary to start processing your thoughts. And really try to accept what happened, instead of letting things play over and over.
Exercise is also a great idea, because not only will it tire you out, but it also releases dopamine, the feel good chemical in your body. You want to get as much of that stuff in you as possible after a breakup. So the more exercise you can do, the better! Dopamine also comes from sleep, which is why it helps you to heal. Other ways to release dopamine are through meditation, massages, music and even the food that you eat can also make a difference.
Remember that breaking up with a partner is actually like quitting an addictive substance. It has the same effects and puts you in ‘cold turkey.’ This means our natural instinct is to fill the void with things that don’t help us. Try to avoid this though. Things like alcohol only disrupt our sleep even more. So instead of letting your life escalate, try to focus on self-care. Be kind to yourself, and careful too.
4. Listen To Relaxing Music
I kind of touched on this above when I mentioned the importance of calming down, but I think relaxing music deserves it’s own spot when it comes to helping with sleep issues after a breakup. After all, it’s not just your thoughts and emotions that stop you from sleeping but the stress that’s putting your body on ‘high alert’ and making it more difficult to relax.Sleep music therefore becomes a bit of a game-changer if you can find what you like and what helps. It’s almost like your very own little lullaby! It’s beautiful really.
I personally have a soft spot for piano music. Like this:
But everyone’s different, so play around to find a style that is most calming for you. Then, once you have it, put it on when you go to bed and are ready to try to sleep. Train your mind to know that, when it plays, it’s time to switch off. As it’s playing, just listen to it completely. Hear the sounds that are filling your ears and really feel them. You can also combine this with the Push Away Technique to keep a clear mind.
Another thing you might find helpful? These 24 hour live stream threads. These are great because they will play through the night and you don’t have to worry about them stopping… Or any ad-breaks waking you up!
5. Get Into a Healthy Bedtime Routine
You may feel a little lost at the moment. Your life has been disrupted, big time. It may be affecting your work, your social life and it can feel like there’s just so much out of your control right now. The thing is, there are still things that you can control, and even though you’re experiencing sleep issues after a breakup, you can get to grips with it a little more by forming a healthy bed time routine… and sticking to it. A few things worth mentioning:
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning… even if you’ve not slept well the night before. It’s hard to get through the day when you’re short on sleep but eventually it will train you into the pattern. You want to keep this going through the weekend too. Right now, this routine will really help you.
- Avoid naps. Even if you’re shattered, they’re only going to make it harder for you to sleep at night. So resist the urge! (If it’s possible to nap right now anyway.) Also make sure you’re getting out of bed in the morning – don’t mope around. Your bed should be a place for sleep only (and sex, but we won’t go there right now!)
- Make sure the environment is right. Your bedroom should be fairly cool, it should also be quiet, and free from any bright lights or natural light that could come in in the mornings. It’s worth evaluating your room and any changes you can make to help you sleep better.
Taken all of this on board? Awesome. Then you might want to start thinking about the different bedtime rituals you could develop.
Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so you should spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity… Like taking a bath, meditating or reading. All of these things work well because they’re also not dependent on electronic devices. Laptops and phones actually make it even harder to sleep due to the type of light they give off. So do something that allows you to switch off, before you then switch that relaxing music on, and get ready to sleep…
In A Nutshell…
You’re bound to experience sleep issues after a breakup. Hopefully, it’s just a temporary thing for you. But in the meantime, do what you can to make it easier to sleep, because a good sleep really does make the world of difference when it comes to your recovery.
You’ll get through all of this, I promise you. And at the end of it all, you’ll come out the other side, a hell of a lot stronger. Sending all my best wishes, and those calming vibes you need!