How to Restore Sleep After Losing Someone

Categories: Bereavement

Sleep can be elusive, especially during a time of grief. When we experience bereavement, it can be challenging to relax and put our minds at rest, which makes sleeping difficult. Grief makes many people feel fatigued, and a lack of sleep can intensify this unpleasant symptom. Everyone deals with loss differently, but insomnia is a common side effect. How do you fall asleep when you’re dealing with difficult emotions?

Exercise during the day.

If you exercise in the daytime, your body will feel more tired at night. When you’re grieving, it’s hard to find the energy for a total workout. You can opt for yoga instead; some videos are specifically targeted to help those who are dealing with loss.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.

These substances will interfere with your body’s sleep schedule and have you feeling wide awake at night. Alcohol can help us fall asleep, but throughout the night it causes sleep disruptions and poorer sleep quality. As for caffeine, that one’s obvious – it makes us alert and focused, which is the opposite of sleepiness.

Stay off electronics before you sleep.

Our body’s natural sleep rhythm is disrupted by the blue light emitted from electronics. It signals the brain that it’s time to be awake, even when we want to go to bed. Devices like phones and gaming consoles can provide a welcome distraction but try to stay off them before bed.

Reach out to loved ones.

Having a conversation with those who care about us can be a tremendous help during a time of grief. You may find it beneficial to seek therapy or counseling from local resources such as Transitions GriefCare. In some cases, you don’t need a professional therapist to speak with – having a conversation with someone who has gone through a loss of their own can be cathartic.

Journal your feelings.

When our minds are racing with thoughts, it can be hard to relax and fall asleep. Try writing them down in a journal – it can ease your mind into a state of restfulness. Once your thoughts are written down, you might find that it’s easier to let go of them. Journaling also allows you to look back on previous entries and see how you’ve progressed.

Make sure that your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature and completely dark.

Set up the conditions in your resting area for a night of deep sleep. If you take the time to prepare your bedroom, you will give yourself the best possible chance of getting some good sleep. If you can, take any electronics out of your bedroom; by only using it for sleeping, you won’t associate it with activities like watching TV or using the computer. Any outside noise that’s keeping you awake can be drowned out by a fan or a white noise machine. You can also use an eye mask or ear plugs if necessary.

Set up a sleep routine.

Familiar acts can signal your body that it’s time to sleep. If you set up a routine that you stick to, it will cue your brain that it’s time to release the chemicals that help you sleep, like melatonin. Activities like taking a bath, reading a book, or brushing your hair can be relaxing. Others find meditation to be a great way to wind down before bed.

Invest in comfortable bedding.

All your efforts will be dismantled by a lumpy mattress or scratchy blanket. To help you sleep, buy bedding that puts your body at ease. A memory foam mattress can help with aches and pains, which are more common when you’re grieving. A plush pillow and fuzzy blanket can be nice to curl up with at night, making sleeping easier.

–Adrian Martinez
Adrian Martinez is a writer based in Canada. She writes articles with a focus on health and lifestyle for a variety of businesses. Some of her favourite pieces can be found on Alterna Cremation’s website.

Photo used with author’s permission.

grief, sleep, sleep rhythms
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