How to Combat Sleep Issues When You’re Grieving a Loss
The turmoil that we experience when we lose a loved one often has a negative effect on our sleep. People who are grieving have to deal with distressing regrets, anxieties and sadness about their loss. Plus, trying to sleep in a bed that you used to share with your deceased loved one can trigger overwhelming emotions that further prevent sleep. Being sleep deprived affects the brain's ability to process memories, make decisions, and control emotion. So, following these tips for a better sleep might just help you handle your grief a little more easily.
Exercise Every Day
Self-care is easy to forget, but essential when grieving a loss. This is especially true when your body and mind are feeling run down from lack of sleep. Fortunately, exercise is one of the best ways to help promote a longer and more restful sleep. Moving your body at any time of day can reduce stress, making it easier to sleep at night when you're plagued by distressing thoughts. Exercise performed in the afternoon or early evening can promote sleepiness due to the post-exercise drop in body temperature. Try to adopt an exercise plan that makes you feel good, ideally one that includes cardio workouts and stretching for the best sleep-inducing benefits. Some great ideas include going for a long run in the mornings or signing up for a yoga class after work.
Get on a Regular Sleep Pattern
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will give your body a schedule to stick to, allowing for proper cycling of your sleep and wake hormones. To build a healthy sleep pattern, Nuvanna recommends scheduling a regular sleep and wake time and following this schedule every day, even on weekends. Following a consistent bedtime ritual will tell your body when it's time to start winding down for sleep. You can use methods such as make a cup of tea, take a bath, read a book, meditate, or do some gentle yoga to prepare your body for rest. Keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and cool can also help your body know that it's time for sleep.
Avoid Certain Activities Before Bed
Did you know that drinking caffeine anytime after noon can prevent you from falling asleep in the evening? And, although alcohol makes you sleepy, it actually interferes with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Before bed, it's advisable to avoid snacks or desserts that are high in sugar and fat. Try not to eat citrus fruits if you suffer from acid reflux since this can wake you up in the middle of the night. Finally, avoid looking at screens near bedtime because the blue light tricks your brain into thinking it's morning, preventing you from getting tired.
Redo Your Bedroom
According to Cornell Memorial, changing the physical environment of your bedroom may help you sleep better after the loss of a spouse. Try decorating the room with colorful, happy things, such as inspiring posters and items that reflect your interests. You may want to move your loved one's belongings into another room so you can choose to see them when you want instead of encountering them unexpectedly. While you're redoing your bedroom, get a new mattress to help improve your sleep. Check out this article to find the best mattress for your sleep position.
Invest in Some Useful Sleep Gadgets
Take advantage of sleep-boosting technology by picking up some sleep gadgets. For example, sleep trackers in the form of sleep masks, wristbands, headbands, or clothing tags can help you analyze your sleep stats over time. This can make you more aware of your bedtime habits and alert you to health problems that might be causing sleep disturbances. Alarm clocks that use sleep-inducing light and sounds can help you tune out distracting noises and thoughts at bedtime. Just make sure you avoid gimmicky sleep gadgets that claim to monitor your brain waves or suppress your partner’s snoring since these don't tend to work very well.
When you’re suffering from the loss of a loved one, getting a good sleep sounds like an elusive dream. But however impossible it seems, it's important to try. Sleep is crucial to healing and should be a priority for anyone dealing with trauma in their life.
Guest post by Sara Bailey of TheWidow.net