The following is written by a lady called Sara who approached me about writing an article for the website specifically regarding sleep after a bereavement. I think it provides some really useful tips. I hope you find it helpful…
There is no manual for grief. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for moving on after the death
of a partner or spouse. You will, unfortunately, feel utterly and completely alone.
But it won’t always be this way.
You will work through the pain and the grief— not to mention the guilt. Trying to deal with
intrusive thoughts and stressful memories can weigh down our everyday lives, from how we
function at work to the kind of sleep we get at night. Depression not only frequently causes
insomnia, but it also encourages the opposite — spending too much time in bed. Either way,
you are feeling fatigued and that is no way to support a heart and mind as they get healthy and heal.
What you need is some inspiration— a starting place for making your own decisions about your
grief, whenever you feel ready, now or never.
Get daily exercise
It may be hard to get out of bed, let alone out of the front door. However, if you force yourself to try you will notice a habit forming. Exercise causes your body to use a lot of energy it then must replace— and that happens during sleep. It’s our body’s natural recovery mode. You can start exercising for 30 minutes a day without changing too much in your routine—take the dog for a walk, go for a run, check out a spin class. Not only can that help you get better sleep, but the moderate workouts also will flood your body with endorphins, which can help improve your mood, lower stress and soothe anxiety.
y a new mattress
We’re supposed to upgrade our mattress every five to 10 years, but most of us have mattresses old enough to vote. A new mattress can help reduce the amount of chronic pain conditions you experience and alleviate any physical pain. A new mattress is unlikely to ease your worried mind, but it can help your body find rest easier by getting more comfortable. When you find relief from your physical stress and tension, you are better equipped to manage fluctuating emotions.
Avoid certain foods
We all crave a midnight snack from time to time, and there is nothing wrong with a treat before bed, as long as it is the right kind of snack. Eating anything within two hours of bedtime runs the risk of keeping you awake. Food is the body’s way of making energy and that process doesn’t stop just because you want to sleep. If you do decide to snack before bed, you’ll want to look out for foods that cause indigestion such as tomatoes and cheeses, as well as foods packed with sugar or caffeine, which can boost energy.
Unplug from technology
Technology runs our days, so it’s not too surprising we often let it run our nights, too. About an hour before you want to hit the sack, turn off the TV, tablet, laptop and smartphone. Turning off technology is one of the fastest ways to turn off our overactive minds. Don’t look at the news, Facebook or email—those things will only get you riled up. While this is typically the case for anyone, it is especially true if technology bombards you with images and memories of your lost loved one.
Create a sleep routine
Sometimes our bodies need a signal that it is time to go to sleep. If we commit to regularly sending this signal at the same time and in the same way, our body comes to expect sleep —maybe even crave it. Before the ideal time to shut your eyes -- maybe 30 minutes or an hour -- start working your way down. You can start by relaxing in a warm bath or slipping into cozy pajamas and reading a book.
Some mental health professionals will tell you there are five stages of grief, and any and all of them can impact your sleep. Unfortunately, you can’t force recovery, but instead, you have to work through it day-by-day. Hopefully, a few of these healthy sleep tips will also help you work through your grief and pain night-by-night.