I’m fairly new to the whole military wife thing and my body is still adjusting to nights without my husband at home when he is training or is on duty overnight.
I miss his presence at home and struggle to settle down and let my body relax. At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly that was keeping me up. But, after some late night research, I discovered that my inability to calm down and decrease stress hormones in my body, was related to my husbands absence. Even though cuddling was often interrupted by our little ones nightmares or night feedings, just having my husband in the same bed actually allowed me to de-stress from the day and get restful sleep throughout the night. In a recent article about how bed sharing is good for your health, Anna Hodgekiss writes,
“Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S. believe sleeping next to someone helps lower the stress hormone cortisol, perhaps because it encourages feelings of safety and security.”
That all sounds amazing! But for me, as a military spouse, I don’t always have a choice about having my husband home every night. But, one thing I notice on my lonesome nights without my husband, is that even if it takes me a while to fall asleep, I almost always wake up feeling refreshed. My suspicion is that when I do fall asleep, I’m not anxious at all about my marriage. I might miss my husband terribly, but I know that he loves me wherever he is, and that we are truly committed to each other. In fact, Wendy Troxel, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at The University of Pittsburgh says this,
“There is extensive literature showing that married people — happily married people, in particular — live longer, happier, and healthier lives than their unmarried or unhappily married counterparts.”
So, we don’t have to resign ourselves to restless sleep when our husbands are away. I find that taking the time to look through some pictures of us together helps me to relax before bed. Other times I’ll listen to an old voicemail from him. I remember him especially well when I peek in on our kids sleeping peacefully, knowing that they were created out of our love.
Ultimately when I think of my husband, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have his love and commitment, even though he can’t be with me when I sleep at night. When I think of his love for me, my breathing slows down and I find it easier to close my eyes.