Going on through the motions of day-to-day life can be brutally difficult after losing a loved one. Not only can the loss affect your ability to complete routine tasks, but it can also affect your sleep. Following a loss, many people find themselves lying awake at night, overwhelmed by grief. However, lack of sleep can cause you to be unable to fully deal with your grief, extending the process and making you less able to deal with any additional stress that may arise. Here are some ways you can try to get better sleep, even while you deal with your grief.
Use External Tools to Improve Your Sleep
Most of what you can do to fall asleep has to do with your own behavior, but there are several tools that can assist you. For example, improving the quality of the air inside your bedroom can help you fall asleep faster. If you have a smoker in the house, installing an air purifier is a great way to help remove harmful particles and lingering odors. There are also smart gadgets that can monitor your sleep and provide personal tips to help you adapt your schedule.
Keep Worries Out of the Bedroom
Following the death of a loved one, it is common to feel powerless, guilty, and depressed while also considering your own mortality. These thoughts prevent you from getting the deep sleep you need. To process your thoughts, you should consider expressing them to someone. Whether you talk to a family member, trusted friend, or licensed professional, you can help improve your health by articulating your feelings. Then, when it is time to actually go to sleep, try your best to leave your worries for the daytime.
You also may wish to move your bed or the location where you sleep to a different room if you are constantly reminded of your loved one at night. While you don’t necessarily need to completely redo your bedroom, it may be helpful to move your loved one’s things to a different location and change the design of the room to separate your bed from your grief. Improve your atmosphere by keeping your room as dark and quiet as possible to foster sleep. You may be able to calm yourself by doing deep, regular breathing exercises before bed to help you fall asleep.
Change Your Pre-Bedtime Habits
Another way you can increase the chances that you will fall asleep more quickly at night is by exercising three or four hours before bedtime. Exercise makes you healthier and promotes sleep, but it can also be a great way to relieve any stress and frustration you may feel. Next, establish a regular bedtime ritual. Go to bed at the same time each night, and follow a similar routine. The regularity will help your body clock prepare for sleep, even if your mind doesn’t want to settle. You’ll also increase the chances that you will be able to fall asleep if you don’t consume alcohol or other foods or beverages with caffeine, use electronic devices, or eat sugary foods two hours before bedtime.
Remember, even though you may not want to sleep, staying fully rested can help you process your grief. Take time to adjust your schedule and stay asleep for as long as you need.
After losing her husband Greg, Sara Bailey created TheWidow.net to support her fellow widows and widowers. She is also the author of the upcoming book ‘Hope and Help After Loss: A Guide For Newly Widowed Parents.’