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After Midnight

There was a rule in our home growing up (ok, several rules, but one pertinent to this post): we were not allowed to call someone on the phone after 9pm. Back in those days, there were no cell phones and no texting. If you wanted to call someone, you picked up the phone attached to the wall in your house and called the person at their house, who answered the phone attached to their wall.

Sometimes you might have had more than one phone attached to your walls, so when someone called, the whole house "rang." You wouldn't dare call someone absent an emergency after 9pm for fear of disturbing someone (and their whole house) who was either asleep or in their nighttime routine.

I'm not sure if folks still abide by a curfew for phone calls, but if they do, I think we might collectively be better served if we kept a curfew on texts and emails as well. With email and texts, the assumption is that the recipient won't see it until they check their phone and so the sender can type it and send it anytime they want to. If the recipient doesn't want to be disturbed, they can simply silence or turn off their phone.

In family law though, the emails I see being sent after midnight are often extremely counter-productive for the person sending it. Whether its related to the imbibing of a substance or a lack of sleep or a combination of the two, those communications tend to create more issues for the sender than they ever resolve. What was a momentary lapse of planning and forethought at 2:30am often becomes a very big piece of evidence six months later at trial. Beyond the evidence created for the other side, unloading on someone at 3am is only going to have a detrimental impact on your ongoing relationship with that person, regardless of how sincere your later apology is.

I certainly understand needing to get something off of your chest, particularly if it's keeping you from a good night's sleep. Draft the email and save the draft for the next day. Revisit it in the morning. See if it still needs to be sent and, if so, whether it needs to be rewritten. Or better yet, draft a new email using your rested brain. Lack of sleep has been shown to impair problem-solving skills, logical reasoning, and diminishes our mood. So chances are, the email you drafted at 2:30am is going to be far less persuasive and written more poorly than the email you would draft the following morning.

We need to care for ourselves better, now more than ever. We need our rest and if that means clearing your mental plate, then write it down. But practice an extra step of self-care by not hitting "send" until after the sun rises!

-David Purvis

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