This weeks blog comes to you from a guest blogger, Sara Bailey. Sara writes about loss as a way to help her heal and to offer hope to others who’ve suffered a loss. Sara has written this phenomenal piece to help others on this journey of loss. Image via Unsplash.
When you're dealing with the emotional and logistical fallout of losing someone you love, the last thing you need is sleep deprivation on top of it. Sleep loss is a common side effect of grief, but there are steps you can take to ensure the best sleep possible during a difficult time. To combat sleeplessness during your time of grief, try these three strategies.
Make Your Bedroom More Comfortable
Sleeping while grieving is hard enough without an uncomfortable bedroom compounding the problem. Addressing bedroom discomforts can get expensive, but with your mental and physical health on the line, the investment is well worth it.
Start by assessing your mattress. If muscle and joint pain keep you up, you need a mattress better suited to your sleep position. Rather than spending hours at mattress stores, shop for a new mattress with online companies that offer free returns if the mattress isn't a good fit.
Are you struggling to breathe in a stuffy bedroom? Washing your bedding regularly can alleviate allergy issues, but if you're experiencing allergy symptoms despite a clean bedroom, air quality may be the culprit. You can address poor bedroom air quality with an air purifier to filter allergens out of the air and a humidifier to alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms caused by dry indoor air. However, be sure to change the filter in your humidifier regularly. If you don't, your humidifier could trap pollutants and worsen your air quality problems.
Prime Your Body for Sleep
Good sleep is easier to achieve when you're genuinely tired. However, despite the constant fatigue that comes with grief, many bereaved people discover that their bodies and minds are overactive when it's time for sleep.
There are a few things you can do to promote feelings of tiredness at bedtime. First, establish a regular bedtime. Even if you don't feel tired in the evening or you stir before the established wake time, stay in bed for the established time period. Eventually, your body will get used to the schedule, and as a result, sleep will grow easier.
You should also aim to be more active during the day. People who don't exercise regularly experience sleep problems at a higher rate. Work out for at least 30 minutes five days a week, and schedule workouts earlier in the day if evening workouts stimulate you.
In addition to exercise, a good diet promotes quality sleep. There's evidence that loading up on carbs late in the day makes it harder to fall asleep, whereas tryptophan-rich foods such as eggs, poultry, and soybeans fight sleeplessness. Fatty, sugary, and acidic foods can also cause sleep disturbances, especially if you're prone to heartburn. Schedule heavy meals earlier in the day, and stick to a light dinner for better sleep.
Calm Your Mind Before Bed
Stress and anxiety are the biggest hurdles to overcome when grief is ruining your sleep. When painful thoughts overwhelm your mind at night, it's near impossible to fall asleep — and when you do, unpleasant dreams may be in store. Learning to calm your mind is harder than adopting an exercise habit or buying a new mattress, but it's one of the most effective ways to improve sleep. Guided visualization, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation are proven techniques that pull your mind away from stressful thoughts so you can fall asleep.
Healthy habits and a comfortable sleep environment are the foundation of good rest. While adopting these three strategies may not eliminate your sleep problems entirely, they're sure to alleviate your insomnia so you not only sleep better at night but also feel better during the day.