The loss of a loved one is an overwhelming and stressful time for anyone. While this is perfectly normal, it can end up having devastating effects on a person’s mental and physical health. One of the ways this happens is through loss of sleep. A 2008 study identified the passing of a partner as the type of loss most likely to keep someone awake at night, but this can happen to anyone who has suffered a significant bereavement.
Below are some steps you can take to reclaim your sleep.
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Regular exercise is one of the most reliable ways to get your body to sleep better. It does this by tiring you out, but also by reducing stress levels and adjusting your body’s response to the sleep-wake cycle. It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise when you are coping with a loss, but once you start, it can be a cathartic process that helps you process your pain.
Good nutrition is one of the first things to be dropped after the loss of a loved one, and it’s easy to understand why. However, it is absolutely crucial that you make an effort to eat well during this period. Unhealthy eating can get you into a cycle of sadness where you eat to feel better in the short run, but the junk food makes you feel worse in the long run. What’s Your Grief has some useful tips on avoiding comfort eating when grieving, which could be useful.
Of course, what you eat also has an effect on your sleep. In particular, check out this list of foods you should avoid before bed to ensure you aren’t making it harder to sleep.
Redo Your Bedroom
If you have lost a spouse, your bedroom may be an extremely triggering place for negative emotions. More than anywhere else in the house, the bedroom was a space shared between the two of you, and it’s likely a constant reminder of what you have lost. That said, making some changes to the decor, such as painting the walls a new color, can help remove these strong associations. According to Angie’s List, soothing and relaxing colors such as light blues and earthy tones are best for a good night’s sleep.
Build a Regular Sleeping Pattern
A regular sleeping schedule can help you wind down every night, signaling to your mind and body that it’s time for bed. This guide by Nuvanna has some good advice on creating a reliable sleep pattern, from setting a schedule to banning electronics from the bedroom. It’s also a good idea to build calming rituals into this sleep schedule, such as a warm bath or sleep meditation.
Look Into Sleep Gadgets
There are plenty of gadgets on the market that promise to help you achieve better sleep. Of course, some of them are more gimmicky than others, and only a few can really make a difference in your life. This list compiles a few of the best-rated sleep gadgets available across a variety of styles, uses, and budgets.
Find The Right Mattress
Even if it’s your thoughts and emotions that are keeping you awake, the quality of your mattress can make it easier or harder to fall asleep. Investing in a truly comfortable mattress, perfectly suited to your preferred sleeping position or your age, can be a huge help. New pillows can have a similar effect, as can high-quality bed sheets.
These tips will not necessarily help someone cope accept or move on from the death of a loved one — only time and support can do that. What they can do, however, is help someone find respite in restful and restorative sleep while keeping them healthy. This, in turn, provides a strong framework for moving on and finding peace.