Managing everyday life can be a struggle when you’re coping with loss. Grief affects us not only during the day, but also at night when we’re trying to sleep. The emotional and physical effects of grief are normal, but that doesn’t mean they have to keep you up at night. Sometimes all it takes is a new routine and some changes to your sleep environment to relax and get the rest you need.
Is Your Space Conducive to Sleep?
Everything feels different after a loss, and if you’ve lost your spouse, your bedroom can feel especially strange. For some people, it helps to find a way to replace the loss of physical contact. The Huffington Post recommends arranging pillows next to you to create a feeling of contact and warmth.
It’s not unusual to need to move after major losses, whether due to reduced income or just a need to move on. When making changes to your sleep environment, if you plan to list your home soon, make changes with house hunters in mind. A coat of paint and other simple upgrades can give your appraisal an important boost.
You should also ask yourself whether your sleeping environment is comfortable and relaxing. The first thing to consider is your mattress and whether it’s providing the right support for your needs. You might also want to redecorate: Get comfy new bedding, paint your bedroom a soothing color, and create plenty of storage so your room is free of clutter.
Grief affects us physically as well as emotionally, and that can often lead to discomfort from the stress put on your body. Using mindfulness relaxation techniques before bedtime can really help you find a sense of calm to promote more restful sleep. These techniques involve focusing on your breath and body, helping release the tension that comes from anxiety and keeps you up at night.
Set a Sleep Routine
Our bodies have a natural “internal clock” that regulates sleep, and establishing a sleep routine helps get that clock on track. Make relaxation before bedtime the focus of your routine to send a signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down. A relaxing bedtime routine might include a warm bath, reading a book, and having a cup of caffeine-free tea.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re grieving, it’s easy to let good habits like healthy eating and exercise fall by the wayside. That’s completely understandable. But when you prioritize taking care of yourself, you will feel better overall and sleep better. According to The Grief Toolbox, focusing on your health while grieving not only makes you feel better physically, but also helps relieve anxiety.
It’s important to eat a balanced diet throughout the day, but you want to be especially aware of foods to avoid close to bedtime. Any food or drink with caffeine or alcohol, and foods high in fat or sugar, can keep you up at night. Being physically active is another healthy habit that helps with sleep. Consumer surveys have shown that people who exercise fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep compared to those who don’t.
While self-care, proper nutrition, and exercise are beneficial during this time, seeking out professional help is always a good idea. Talking with a therapist or grief counselor to cope with your feelings is a proven helpful tactic as you work through the stages of grieving. If you’re signed up with Medicare, Part B may cover expenses associated with sessions with a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
Get Help from Technology
There are countless sleep gadgets on the market, so when you reach for tech to help, it’s important to know what really works, as opposed to gimmicks that probably won’t. Some of the best tech sleep aids monitor your body’s sleep patterns and send the information to a mobile app. Knowing this information helps give you a better idea of what’s interfering with your sleep so you can troubleshoot problems. After all, when you know what it is that’s keeping you up, it’s easier to make the right changes.
There’s no denying it can be hard to get restful sleep when you’re grieving. You may not be able to do away with loneliness and anxiety entirely, but you can reduce their effects on you. And when you finally get some rest, you will be better able to handle the other daily hurdles associated with the grief process.
Photo credit: Pixabay