Loss of a Loved One: When You’re Grieving and Tired of Not Sleeping
It’s nearly 2 am, and you’re tossing and turning in bed to find a good position. You’ve been trying to fall asleep since 11 pm. Your thoughts are racing, and your body keeps fidgeting. It wasn’t always this way. You used to sleep soundly. Then, a loved one passed away, and it’s been difficult to have a good night of sleep. Grief appears in many ways, and one way is sleep deprivation. Here are factors that contribute to your lack of sleep and what you can do about it.
For those who have lost a spouse, the hardest place to be is probably in your bedroom where you shared memories and personal moments with your late partner. Changing up your bedroom might be the best medicine to get you through this difficult grieving period. Consider swapping out your old furniture for something that speaks to your individual personality. For example, buy a new mattress and rearrange the bedroom so that it feels like a new space, or paint the walls a different color that calms and soothes you.
The air you breathe could have an effect on your overall well-being, and it can actually contribute to your ability to get restful sleep. Since you can’t see toxins in the air, you might not realize what’s there. Indoor air pollution can come from several sources, including air ducts, furniture, paint, old bedding, pet dander, household products, and gas appliances. Mold, chemicals, gas leaks, and more can cause a host of health problems, from respiratory symptoms to headaches and nausea. You can take action to eliminate indoor air pollutants by vacuuming regularly, installing an air purifier, and replacing air filters.
Do the same routine every night at the same time to help prepare yourself for bed. For instance, take a hot bath with lavender essential oil, drink a cup of decaf tea, practice meditative yoga for 10 minutes, and read a chapter from a book in bed. These calming techniques will allow your body to relax and get your mind settled down before you go to sleep.
One thing that won’t calm you down is your mobile device. As tempting as it is to pick up the phone and distract yourself with online content, the light will interrupt your Circadian Rhythm and keep you awake longer.
Another thing to avoid before bed is food that stimulates you or causes disruptive digestion. Caffeine and chocolate keep you wired, while celery and watermelon cause you to use the bathroom during the night. Alcohol and fatty foods can disrupt your sleep, despite the fact that they make you crash sooner. Alcohol might seem like a solution to forget about your sorrows for a few hours, but you won’t sleep well or wake up feeling better the next day. What’s more, the withdrawals could actually hurt your mental state more.
Getting your sweat on at night before bed could also keep you energized and awake, but a solid workout in the morning keeps your body going all day and helps you rest at night. Light exercise during the day doesn’t do the job as well. However, a light yoga or stretching session can help put your mind at ease so you sleep better at the end of the day.
When natural remedies don’t work, there’s always the option to try a sleep gadget. A smart mattress could promote restful sleep, and a sound machine will help you fall asleep faster. Anti-snoring devices can also provide relief but not all are effective. Micro CPAP devices that are marketed for snoring problems might not do what they promise since snoring problems could come from the lower airways rather than the nasal passage. These devices are helpful for breathing difficulties due to sleep apnea, but perhaps not for the average snorer.
How do you rest when someone you love is gone forever and you miss them every night? The answer isn’t simple, but taking action little by little could make a difference over time. Start with what you can control, and try not to worry about what you can’t change. In time, you’ll sleep soundly again.
***Written by Sara Bailey for Meridian Counseling
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.