The experience of losing a loved one causes many physical symptoms, from a loss of appetite to chronic sleeplessness. The stress of this experience may require many different strategies to effectively recover. Struggling with sleep deprivation makes it difficult to cope with intense emotions during the day and can really get in the way of healing. So, here are a few tips from BRE HEALTHY to help you drift off to sleep a little easier and sleep more soundly once you get there.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
First, restrict your alcohol and caffeine consumption. Even drinking a cup of coffee in the early afternoon can keep you awake later that night. Alcohol also interferes with our restful slumber by preventing us from slipping into deeper stages of more restorative sleep. Instead, Sleep Matters Club recommends sipping on sleep-inducing substances like tart cherry juice or a cup of chamomile tea.
Get Some Exercise
The loss of a loved one often throws off our entire routine, along with our regular exercise. Try to get back out there and exercise for at least 20 minutes every day to reduce stress and enhance your sleep quality. Going for a run first thing in the morning can help reset your sleep-wake cycle by exposing you to natural light right after waking. Alternatively, you can exercise a couple of hours before bedtime to tire out your body and encourage feelings of sleepiness.
Focus on Relaxation Strategies
Part of practicing good sleep hygiene involves sticking to a regular bedtime routine. During the last 30–60 minutes before bed, engage in relaxing activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. These mindful activities can help you rid your mind of worries and regrets before bed so you can slip into sleep without fighting off distressing thoughts.
Focus on Healthy Foods
Healthy eating can do wonders for your sleeping patterns. When you fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods, you provide it with the energy and resources it needs to maintain optimal health and function properly. By consuming a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, you can provide your body with the necessary building blocks to regulate your mood, energy levels, and hormones.
When these factors are in balance, you're more likely to have a restful night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. So next time you're feeling sluggish or restless at night, consider incorporating more healthy foods into your diet to promote better sleep and overall wellness.
If you’re looking for delicious and healthy recipes, check out BRE HEALTHY!
Declutter Your Bedroom
Make sure to reduce stress in your home. Bedroom clutter may be trapping your mind in a state of anxious unease since it represents unfinished business in your life. This goes double for a bedroom cluttered with items that remind you of a now-absent spouse. Try to tidy away anything that doesn't contribute to feelings of calm. If you aren't ready to sort through your partner's belongings or you can't decide what to get rid of just yet, put their things in storage to take care of it later. This will help you free up space in your bedroom so you can turn it into a relaxing, sleep-focused sanctuary.
Sleep in Greater Comfort
Your bedroom should be cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable to promote the best quality of sleep. Invest in blackout curtains and a white noise machine to block disturbances from outside. Use thin, breathable sheets and refresh your space with interchangeable duvet covers. Giving your room a slightly different look can help you see the space differently, which can help with grief, especially if you shared your bedroom with your loved one. Consider also taking advantage of cooling sleep technology like temperature-regulating mattress pads and air-purifying fans and humidifiers. You’d be surprised by how much more comfortable you feel at night when you aren’t disturbed by snoring or discomfort in your airways. Just make sure to change your filters regularly to ensure your humidifier is working in optimum condition.
Invest in a Quality Mattress
Did you know that we have different mattress needs as we progress through different stages of life? According to Restonic, you should evaluate the condition of your mattress every 5–7 years and consider if your needs have changed. For example, older people require greater spinal alignment and back support from a mattress than young adults. A good-quality mattress can help you sleep better by providing comfortable support in all the places you need it. Plus, getting a brand-new mattress is a great way to look forward to bedtime.
Be Patient and Build Restful Practices
If grief continues to keep you up at night no matter what you do, don’t lose hope. It’s normal to experience longer periods of sleeplessness after losing a loved one. Keep trying out different sleep strategies and finding activities that relax you. You might just need to give your body some time to learn how to sleep again.
Written by Cassidy Gibson-Cooper, blog contributor and founder of parenting-central.com