Breakups are all consuming. It’s not unusual to spend most of your time and energy reliving the relationship and trying to figure out what went wrong. It can be difficult to function normally much less figure out how to sleep after a breakup.
How do you sleep after a breakup? Actively work on accepting it and moving on. By actively trying to change the way you’re thinking about the breakup, you can work on being happy again. This lets you clear your mind and get some sleep
Everyone knows that breakups are hard but they can also cause real physical changes to your body and mind. Getting sleep when you’re coping with that level of stress is next to impossible and it isn’t going to happen on its own.
Do Breakups Cause Physical Changes to Your Body?
Just like there’s a science behind falling in love, there’s also a science behind breaking up. In my research, I found that your brain processes the emotional pain of a break up in the same way it does physical pain. This explains why it hurts so much to have your heart broken.
In my reading, I also found that past relationships can be like a drug. Your body has cravings for during a breakup, almost like an addict trying to get clean. Have you even called, texted, or shown up somewhere uninvited to try to get your ex back or just to get a reaction? Looking back, you know this behavior is irrational. But, when you’re caught in the moment, it doesn’t matter. You’re desperate and will do anything to try to get that connection back.
Why is this? Because love and addiction both involve dopamine, a feel-good hormone that’s associated with feelings of euphoria. It’s part of what causes you to feel so amazing when you’re falling in love. After a breakup, your body craves this feeling and the person who gave it to you. In a way, you really are going through relationship withdrawal.
Luckily, I also uncovered evidence that your brain tries to help you through this by trying to regulate your emotions. With the right techniques, you can take advantage of this and finally get some sleep.
How to Stop Ruminating over a Breakup
When you’re experiencing any kind of stress or anxiety, one of the worst times for it is when you’re laying in bed, trying to fall asleep. There’s nothing to distract you from your thoughts and it’s easy to get carried away, especially when you’re dealing with heartbreak.
It’s normal to be sad and even devastated after a breakup. A few sleepless nights are expected but once your lack of sleep starts to have a real impact on your lift, it’s time to take action. If you find you’re having obsessive thoughts that are keeping you up at night, there are things you can do to stop ruminating about your ex at bedtime.
As I mentioned, because of the effects of dopamine, a breakup creates feelings similar to withdrawal. Just like any addiction, you have to decide that you’re ready to change the behavior before you can really move on. It’s easy to lay awake at night and pick apart every detail of your last argument and what you think went wrong.
Those kinds of thoughts don’t just stop on their own. It’s much easier to get lost in feeling sorry for yourself but when you’re ready to move forward, here are some things you can do to think rationally and work through the pain.
First, stop romanticizing the relationship. After a breakup, people tend to focus on the happy times and what they’re going to miss about the other person. No one thinks about the bad things that led to the breakup.
One of the best things you can do to clear your head is to write all of the bad things down. Make a list of the reasons the relationship ended, even the things you have a hard time admitting. Be honest with yourself. Most of the time, we know why relationships end, we just don’t want to admit it. Did you have a gut feeling that something wasn’t right? Did he cheat on you? Did she stop answering your calls or returning your texts? Was there a lack of mutual respect?
Take an honest account of your former relationship. Breakups rarely happen out of the blue and it’s likely you had an idea that something wasn’t right. Taking stock of all the things your relationship was lacking makes the breakup more tangible. You can get the obtrusive thoughts out of your head, move on, and finally get some sleep.
Some people can handle being friends with an ex, some cannot. If you find that being around them socially or a random text every now and then sends you into a tailspin, don’t be afraid to cut them out of your life. That might sound harsh but those little glimpses of what once was can really set you back. When you feel like this, take out your list and reread it. Add to it if necessary but keep reminding yourself of why the relationship ended.
Shift Your Focus to What You’ve Learned and Move On
Instead of wishing that things had worked out, take some time to evaluate what you learned from the relationship. Was she too much of an introvert? Was he a social butterfly? Did you have opposite schedules that made it too hard to spend time together? What were the things that made your relationship difficult? How can you avoid them with your next partner?
Remind yourself that you will find love again. A lot of people have a hard time believing they’ll find someone new but all of the cliches are true. There are other fish in the sea but you’ll never catch one if you’re holding onto a fish you should throw back. When one door closes, another one opens but you have to be willing to walk through it. And, you absolutely can do better because you will find someone who won’t break your heart.
Of course, no one believes these things right away. You need time to mourn. But accepting that you’ll find happiness again is the only way to move on. There are better options out there for you than a relationship that didn’t work.
Do the Work then Get Some Sleep
Once you’ve worked through the difficult emotional part of a breakup, you should find that sleep comes a bit easier. If you’re still having some problems, though, don’t worry. There are other things you can try.
Maybe you’re no longer constantly replaying the relationship in your head but now you’ve reached a place where you’re not really sure what to do with yourself. So often we lose ourselves in relationships, especially bad once. Take this time to find yourself again.
Self care is important. Are there hobbies that you lost interest in during the relationship that you’d love to get into again? A place you used to visit but haven’t been in years? Do you have a big “to read” pile or a DIY project you’ve been meaning to tackle? Take an art class, learn how to cook, join a gym. There are countless ways to do things for yourself that help make your life as fulfilling as possible. Now is the time to explore them.
Getting showered, dressed, and out of the house it also important. Don’t sit at home feeling sorry for yourself or waiting for someone to invite you out to do something. Call up your friends and get yourself back out there. You don’t have to fall in love immediately or even start dating right away but socializing goes a long way toward making yourself feel better.
Working through the mental and physical effects of a breakup isn’t easy, but it’s the only way move forward and be happy again. If you’re losing sleep because you can’t stop ruminating over a breakup, remember that making an honest assessment of your former relationship can help. Write it down and reread it whenever you need a reminder.