Dec 18, 2018 by Sara Bailey
From personal experience the now widowed Sara Bailey says, “the most difficult thing to do after the loss of a loved one is just sleep.” For her, it was a combination of being overly tired (both physically and emotionally) and overwhelmed by the thought of sleeping in the bed she used to share with her husband.
When dealing with the loss of a loved one, a person can experience a fair amount of stress. Studies show that during bereavement, sleep disturbance is a common experience. Finding a way to get the appropriate rest needed is an important part of self-care during a difficult time. Here are some ways a person can get higher-quality sleep.
Exercising at the beginning of the day will promote better sleep at night. Exercising later in the day can cause alertness, and prevent the body from experiencing the natural feelings of exhaustion.
Fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine can all disrupt the natural biological sleep cycle and reduce the quality of rest. If you consume caffeine, do so earlier in the day. Try to eat fiber-rich foods and get at least five different types of fruits and vegetables each day. This will make a difference in diet and promote more restful sleep.
Using electronics shortly before bed can increase exposure to “blue light”, which is known to alter circadian rhythms and can decrease the body’s natural melatonin production. Discontinue electronic use at least 30 minutes before bed. Instead, engage in relaxing activities to help the wind-down process. This could include stretching, meditation, doing a puzzle, reading or writing.
Stress is one of the biggest reasons that people have a hard time getting adequate sleep. This can especially be the case after the loss of a loved one. Developing strategies to cope with stress can help ensure that a person doesn’t toss and turn all night. This can include eliminating any stressful activities in the daily routine. Also, consider trying some meditation before bed or writing down whatever is on the mind while using the constant reminder that it will be taken care of the next day.
While the blue light should be avoided before bed, it doesn’t mean that technology cannot be used to its fullest potential. Whether it’s a device that creates aural white noise or unique fans that help cool the body’s core temperature, there are new gadgets being developed that can improve sleep quality and help get the rest needed, especially by calming and helping avoid sleep distractions.
Depending on the position a person sleeps in, different mattresses will provide specialized support and cushion that may help ease muscle tension and promote well deserved sleep. When you are stressed out and have much on your mind, your body may tense up and cause discomfort while sleeping. The new mattress design to improve the sleep experience can aide in relaxation.
According to Lifehacker, giving extra attention to self-care after the loss of a loved one is particularly important because it will help combat the negative effects of stress. It can help avoid the feeling of burnout and apathy as well. Self-care can mean a lot of things, including the points mentioned above. Self-care will help you sleep better while you are going through a difficult time.
Whether it’s taking a bath, drinking a warm cup of tea, or reading a book, find something that calms the mind and redirects attention. This can help a person focus on something besides the grief that they are experiencing and can be a calming way to transition into sleep.
Getting plenty of sleep can help ease the grieving process. It is not a cure, but it can help with the tough stuff. Try to find ways to relax, take care of yourself, and keep moving forward. Hopefully, those employing these techniques will experience peace of mind through quality sleep.