The Best Advice for Managing Sleeplessness Following the Loss of a Loved One
By Sara Bailey
Losing someone you love impacts your entire life, often making it difficult to get through your days and nights. When you’re unable to sleep during bereavement, it can make you feel even worse. Instead of tossing and turning, take some simple steps to improve your sleep.
Loss of a loved one and lost sleep. Even if you never experienced insomnia before, the loss of someone you love can mean losing sleep. You might lie awake, sifting through memories and emotions, or staring at the ceiling feeling empty. Insomnia in the wake of loss is actually not unusual. Some studies reflect a link between sleep and grief. Basically, it’s a vicious circle. People struggle to rest when they are grieving, which in turn, exacerbates their grief and makes it harder to sleep. Focus on the Family points out grieving is an entirely personal journey, and there is no right or wrong path, nor is there is a certain time frame for grief. Even Jesus wept with grief, but when you can’t sleep well, it inhibits your ability to heal from your loss.
Examine your environment. Your bedroom surroundings can play a key role in how well you sleep. Make it a point to keep your room dark, cool, and quiet. You might try some aromatherapy to help you rest and relax. Vanilla and lavender oils are known to be helpful with getting a good night’s sleep, calming your body and mind. Some people benefit from sleep-assistive devices. There are hybrid machines that monitor your habits and incorporate sound and light to help you fall into sound slumber. There are even “smart” sleep masks that analyze your sleep patterns to help you snooze. Another idea is to change up your bedroom. Now might be the perfect time to invest in a new mattress. A new bed could help you achieve some closure and make you more comfortable for sleeping. If you decide it’s time to replace your mattress, consider ordering a bed in a box. Once delivered, a bed in a box is far easier to move to the right room than a traditional mattress. It can be maneuvered through halls and around tight corners with minimal hassle, which is particularly important if you’re trying to manage it by yourself. You should also select a mattress that suits your sleep position to help optimize your comfort.
Sleepy and synchronized. Getting into a routine can help synchronize your body with a healthy sleep pattern. By going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning, your body begins to expect that routine—allowing you to fall and stay asleep more easily. Changing what you do in the hours before bed can also be helpful. For instance, looking at your cell phone, tablet, or television right before bed can actually trigger you to feel more alert. Those electronics emit a blue light that is counterproductive to sleeping. Getting in some physical activity can also help, especially if you work out early in the day. Exercising offers bonus benefits as well, helping to lower your stress and anxiety levels, and releasing feel-good chemicals in your brain. Avoid late-day exercising, though, since the boost might keep you awake at night.
Rethink your eating habits. Many people are comfort eaters, and while that might feel good in the moment, it’s important to be conscientious about eating a nutritious diet. Psychology Today explains nutrition plays an important role in supporting your mental health—and you are going through an especially difficult time. Certain foods can help lower your risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, while at the same time boosting cognitive function. Include fatty fish, whole grains, leafy greens, and yogurt in your meals. There are also some foods you should avoid eating before bed. Steer clear of spicy foods, dairy products, and sugary foods at bedtime since they could interfere with your sleep.
It’s important to get sufficient sleep for your well-being. Change your environment and habits to encourage better slumber. Rest in the palm of His hand and know that in time, you will heal.
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Psalm 4:8 (NLT2) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.
Psalm 127:2 (NLT2) It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Proverbs 3:21-24 (NLT2) 21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them,22 for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace.23 They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble.24 You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.