We all need sleep to stay healthy, but when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s normal to have a hard time sleeping. Even though this is a common struggle, there are things you can do to get the shut-eye you need. Taking control of your bedtime routine and environment can make a tremendous difference and help you get a more restful night’s sleep.
Switch Up Your Sleep Space
Your sleep environment plays a key role in how well you sleep. This is especially true if you have lost your spouse, but it really applies to anyone. The space where you live often reflects your emotions, but the opposite is also true. When you make your home, and especially your bedroom, a serene space, it can make you feel more calm and uplifted.
If this isn’t the feeling you get from your bedroom, it may be time switch things up. The Huffington Post recommends decorating with a cool color palette, such as light blues, greens, and gray because these colors make you feel more relaxed. The right light is key to relaxation and sleep, too. Instead of using an overhead light fixture, get a bedside lamp so you can keep the light low before you go to bed.
You also need to be as comfortable as possible, so think about any issues that might be keeping you up, such as a too-warm temperature or dry air. Adding a humidifier to your bedroom will help moisturize the air, which is especially important in the winter when it’s dryer. A humidifier can also soothe your skin and nasal passages, making it easier to sleep more comfortably. For optimal performance, make sure you replace your humidifier’s filters regularly. Your bed needs to be comfy, too. Start by making sure you have the right mattress. Many people don’t realize that their sleep position affects the type of mattress they should be sleeping on, or that their grief can cause physical symptoms such as back pain, which can have a direct impact on sleep quality. If you haven’t been sleeping well due to back pain since the loss of your loved one, experts recommend opting for a memory foam mattress, which will help cradle your spine, allowing your body and mind to relax.
Calm Your Mind and Body
Once you have a comfortable and calm sleep environment, focus on your bedtime routine and ways to relax and unwind. Set a regular time for going to bed and getting up every day. Setting a sleep schedule may seem hard when you’re already struggling to sleep, but once it becomes a habit, your body will get used to the schedule, and your natural circadian rhythm will make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
Then, create a pre-bedtime routine that helps you decompress from the day. Some people like reading, listening to music or taking a warm bath before bed. These are all great ways to clear your mind and steer your focus away from anything that’s troubling you. To be even more intentional about relaxation, Very Well Health recommends using meditation or prayer (or both) right before going to sleep.
While your bedtime routine should include elements that are calming and help you get more restful sleep, also be mindful of avoiding things that can keep you up. Don’t use electronics too close to bedtime, and especially not in your bedroom. The light from mobile devices interferes with your natural sleep rhythms, making your brain think it’s time to be awake. Certain foods and drinks can interfere with sleep, too. Avoid anything that contains caffeine (including hidden sources, like chocolate), alcohol, and foods that are very acidic or high in fat.
Give Smart Sleep Gadgets a Try
You want to avoid using electronics with screens before bed, but some electronic gadgets that are designed specifically for sleep can actually help. We like gadgets that promote more restful sleep by providing soothing sounds and light at night. Even better, some also track your sleep patterns, giving you information that makes it easier to adjust things that may be keeping you up.
Loss of sleep while grieving is absolutely normal, and it can be even more pronounced if you’ve lost your spouse. These tips for getting more restful sleep will hopefully help you through that adjustment.
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