Many people find they have difficulty sleeping after the death of a loved one. It is normal to be kept up by the various emotions of guilt, sadness, and anxiety that can manifest themselves while grieving. However, just because it is normal and understandable doesn’t mean it is something you can ignore.
Sleep and mental health feed into each other in a dangerous way. Depression and anxiety keep you awake, and this lack of sleep can make you feel even more emotionally vulnerable the next day. If you don’t focus on improving your sleep, you can find that it gets even harder for you during what is an already difficult time. Believe it or not, the following tips can make a world of difference in your sleep habits, which in turn can provide some of the extra physical and mental support you need.
Try Some Of These Calming Techniques
According to Psychology Today, one of the best ways to improve your sleep is to focus on relaxing in the lead-up to your bedtime. If your mind and body are feeling worried or tense, it will make it a lot harder for your brain to shut down for the night. Incorporate one of these anxiety-busting techniques into your nighttime routine to sleep better:
- Set A Schedule – Your body sleeps better when it has a regular schedule. Setting up a regular sleep routine and sticking to it will let your body know it’s time for bed and remove any anxieties about when to go to bed.
- Exercise – There is ample evidence that regular exercise helps you sleep better. This happens on a long-term scale, so it’s not a case of exercising intensely to tire yourself out. Instead, it’s about making exercise part of your daily life.
- Meditate – Meditation will not necessarily clear your mind of negative thoughts, but it can help you accept those feelings without letting them get in the way. Start a meditation ritual before bed to wind down and feel more at ease
- Avoid Certain Foods – In particular, steer clear of caffeine and alcohol during the hours before bed.
- Try A Sleep Gadget – If your routine isn’t helping, there is a whole world of sleep gadgets that can assist in getting to sleep. From high-tech mattresses to light therapy alarm clocks and sleep-tracking eye masks, there is something for everyone. However, be aware this is a market full of silly gimmicks, so use common sense and check online reviews.
Redo Your Bedroom
A home improvement project may not be exactly what you want to think about right now, but it could be extremely helpful for your sleep problems. This is especially true if you have lost a spouse you used to share a bedroom with, and whose memory is very closely associated with the room in which you are trying to sleep.
You don’t have to redo everything – it’s up to you how much you want to preserve. However, these are a few areas in which a small change could make a big difference:
- Paint Color – A lick of paint is an easy way to make the bedroom feel brand new, and it can also have a positive impact on your mood.
- Your Mattress – A new mattress can make you feel like you are sleeping in an entirely new room, and a good mattress can make falling asleep a breeze. Restonic has a useful guide on selecting the perfect one for you.
- Humidity – A dry bedroom can irritate your skin and nasal passages, making it harder for you to fall asleep. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which is particularly helpful in the winter months. Check out How To Home’s extensive resources to help you choose.
Sleeping well at night will not solve all of your problems or change what has happened. However, it will give you the rest you need to feel supported. It will give you the tools you need to process your grief in a healthy way and to continue your everyday life with some degree of normality. You owe it to yourself to practice self-care during this difficult time, and good sleep is an important part of that. It will get easier, as long as you focus on giving your body and mind what they need.
~ By Sara Bailey, Contributing Writer