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Can Contact With Your Ex Lead to Poor Sleep & Health?

By | - September 12, 2023

Steve Benmor is a recognized divorce lawyer, family mediator, arbitrator, speaker, writer and educator. Mr. Benmor has worked as lead counsel in many divorce trials, held many leadership positions in the legal community and has been regularly interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers as an expert in Family Law.

A new research study of recently separated adults revealed that participants who spent more time with their ex-spouse tended to have poor sleep and worse health. 

In the paper, “Sleep Efficiency and Naturalistically-Observed Social Behavior Following Marital Separation: The Critical Role of Contact With an Ex-Partner” published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationshipsresearchers Andrea M. Coppola, Matthias R. Mehl, Allison M. Tackman, Spencer C. Dawson, Karey L. O’Hara, and David A. Sbarra report groundbreaking social science findings.

Recognizing that divorce is a significant life upheaval that affects psychological well-being and physical health, the researchers examined the link between divorce and sleep efficiency.

There were 122 participants consisting of separated or divorced adults between 24 and 65 years of age. The average length of the marriages were 13 years and on average the participants were separated for 4 months.

The researchers conducted assessments 3 times per week for 5 months. Results were recorded with electronic devices worn by the participants that recorded their movement and activity levels during sleep. Additionally, the participants completed self-reported assessments.

The researchers found that divorcees reported ongoing sleep disturbances that persisted 10 weeks or more after physical separation from their partner and that such poor sleep caused worsened mental health and increased blood pressure. The negative outcomes were more extreme for spouses experiencing higher degrees of conflict. Participants with higher levels of anxiety tended to have even worse sleep efficiency.

The scientific study materially contributes to the understanding of the psychology of divorce and its impact on physical health through decreased sleep quality.

Query what this research means for judges, lawyers, mediators and assessors in the development of Parenting Plans and, specifically, the interaction between the parents for the exchange of children.

RESEARCH PAPER LINK: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/02654075221135855

Steve Benmor is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a Specialist in Family Law and is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. He is a Divorce Mediator accredited by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario and a Certified Specialist in Parenting Coordination accredited by the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario. You can find his CV at https://benmor.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Steve_CV.pdf He can be reached at steve@benmor.com

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