Broken Heart Keeping You Up At Night?
Heartbreak, it turns out, is not exclusive to lovestruck teenagers. Hearing those painful words from that person you love and want to be with, “It's not you, it's me” or “I hope we can still be friends,” can literally feel like you are being stabbed in the heart. Heartbreak can be defined as overwhelming sorrow, grief, or disappointment.
The experience of heartbreak is so potent that researchers have concluded that those who have recently been through a breakup display similar brain activity when shown photos of their loved one as they do when in physical pain. Additionally, it has been concluded that rejection and emotional and physical pain are all processed in the same regions of the brain.
I believe that heartbreak is one of the most emotionally grueling experiences anyone can go through. I wouldn't wish it on anyone! Additionally, many studies have indicated that moving on after a broken heart has significant physical ramifications. The pain can take over your life and can cause your body to stop working properly. One study showed that under an MRI scanner, the brains of the heartbroken resemble the brains of those experiencing cocaine withdrawal. Studies have also found that people in long-term relationships tend to regulate each other's biological rhythms. A breakup can disrupt your physiology, causing insomnia and changes in appetite, body temperature, and heart rate.
If you have experienced heartbreak, you know firsthand that your internal and external world can feel turned upside down. But, I do offer some good news. I absolutely believe that moving through the pain is possible. I have seen people who have suffered the worst heartbreaks reach brighter days, move on, and even fall in love again. If you are going through a broken heart, please know you aren't alone. I am here to help you through it. I won't give up on you, or allow you to give up on yourself!
My favorite self-care tip for those going through major heartbreak is to make sure you do whatever you can to get enough sleep. Daniel Gartenberg, PhD sleep scientist, shares that, “90% of us need between 7-8 hours of sleep.” Recovering from a broken heart is a process and it takes time. However, we are always better versions of ourselves when well-rested. Getting over a heartbreak takes a lot of energy and we need to be well-rested if we are committed to moving past the pain. Gartenberg also shares that, "People know that mental fog that comes with sleep debt, but what they often don't realize is that sleep deprivation affects everything from snack cravings and immunity to sense of humor and even empathy."
E. Joseph Cossman wrote in his book, How I Made $1,000,000 in Mail Order, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep.” While sleep won't heal your broken heart overnight, rest is a fundamental first step in your recovery.
Below, please find 4 tips to help you get a well-deserved rest when heartbreak is keeping you awake at night. Sending you thoughts of easier days ahead! Please don't hesitate to reach out and let me know how you are doing.
1. Coping with sleeping alone: Sleeping alone is just one of the many things those who are going through a breakup must learn to adjust to. Rearranging the furniture or redecorating your room can help combat feelings of emptiness. I recommend buying a new comforter or new bed. When was the last time you got a new mattress? Doctors at the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center recommend considering a new mattress every seven years or when the mattress begins to affect sleep. Sleeping with a big body pillow on your ex’s side of the bed can also help fill the loneliness.
2. Your bedroom is sacred: You want your brain and body to associate the bed and bedroom with sleep. It's very normal when you are feeling heartbroken to want to curl up in bed and hide from the world. Therefore, you might find yourself spending more time alone in your bedroom and doing non-sleep activities in bed such as watching tv, texting, surfing the internet, doing computer work, and maybe eating ice cream. Sleep experts recommend that using your bed exclusively for sleeping will associate the bedroom with just sleep and make it easier to wind down at night.
3. When your mind is racing: When you have anxious and obsessive thoughts about your ex during the day, your mind may not stop racing when your head hits the pillow at night. Research has shown that most people struggling with anxiety also struggle with getting adequate sleep — they have difficulty falling asleep, and wake up more easily. If anxiety is getting in the way of your sleep patterns, please contact me. I'm happy to set up a complimentary call with you or connect you to another trained professional. I also recommend limiting alcohol and caffeine and implementing exercise, meditation, and bedtime rituals such as taking a bath nightly right before bed. The last will signal to your body that it's time to get some rest.
4. Wide awake at 3:00 AM: Lying in bed for hours simply doesn't work. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep past 30 minutes, go into another room. Getting into (low-key) action generally reduces anxiety, and you may need to journal about your worries. This can help get out your negative thoughts. Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good, also recommends drinking some (caffeine free) tea, listening to music, or practicing a little meditation. Make sure to avoid any activities on your phone or your laptop. These devices will only wake you up.
Though it may not feel like it initially, or even for months (or years) afterward, recovering from heartbreak is very possible. After the usually unavoidable initial grieving period, it is important to start practicing self-care and building yourself back up. Just generally taking the time to make yourself feel better (and reminding yourself that you deserve to feel better) can be a great aid to getting back into the normal rhythms of your life and moving on.
Can you relate to this post? If yes, please send me an email and let's set up a complimentary phone call.
Sending you peaceful thoughts and wishes for brighter days.