Serenity in Grief: How to Get Better Sleep After Losing a Loved One
Sleep can be one of the hardest things to come by following the loss of a loved one. Ironically, sleep is one of the things you need the most during the grieving period. Getting good, quality sleep helps elevate your mood, fight off anxiety and depression, and grieve in a healthy manner. Here’s how to get the sleep you need during this trying time.
Get Active During the Day
Very few people who don’t exercise feel that they get enough quality sleep. In fact, one survey found it to be just 11 percent. The truth is that exercise not only improves the quality of your sleep but the quantity as well. One way exercise helps you sleep better is through temperature. Exercise boosts your internal body temperature a few degrees, and when it comes down a couple hours later, it induces sleepiness. Exercise also helps regulate stress hormones and boost the production of melatonin (which regulates sleep).
Exercise will also boost endorphins, improving your mood — it’s a win-win. So, get up and get active during the day (not at night, as that can disrupt your sleep) for better, restful nights.
Be Careful What You Eat Before Bedtime …
It’s probably smart to avoid eating or drinking anything in the couple hours before bedtime (especially if you’re having problems sleeping). However, there are some foods you must avoid, including chocolate, red meat, tomato sauce, dairy, spicy foods, and booze.
… and What You Do Before Bed
It’s not just food you need to worry about. What activities you participate in before bed can drastically affect your sleep — either positively or negatively. Of all the things to avoid doing before bedtime, the most important is giving in to excessive screen time. Looking at a phone, tablet, computer, or TV can disrupt sleep patterns (blame the blue light emitted by electronic devices). Instead, read a book for entertainment. Listen to calming music. Take a bath. Leave stress behind by meditating and breathing deeply and intentionally. Learn how to relax without electronic stimulation and your sleep will improve.
Give Your Bedroom a Serenity Update
Your sleeping environment influences your sleep quality. This sounds obvious, but many people neglect their bedrooms. After losing a loved one, it may be smart to give your room a complete makeover (especially if the loved one was your spouse), changing things up for a “fresh start” while keeping some reminders of your loved one. It’s also a good idea to slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls — something that can have a soothing effect.
Get a Gadget to Help
There are a lot of gadgets on the market that claim they can make you sleep like a baby. Be skeptical, of course — if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. However, there are some gadgets you can try that may give you some serenity at night. Weighted blankets, sleep masks, light-emitting devices, and white noise machines can help.
Losing a loved one and the shock, sadness, and grief that follows will often disrupt sleep patterns — even in those who never had any sleep problems prior to the loss. If you can’t sleep or you wake up not feeling as rested as you should, you shouldn’t panic — this will only make it worse. Instead, incorporate some lifestyle changes and switch things up in terms of your bedroom environment and your nighttime routine. Although grief can negatively affect your sleep, it’s that good quality sleep that’s going to help get you through the grief.
Written by Sara Bailey. A massive thank you for this stunningly written article.