February 18, 2019

Getting Sleep While Grieving

Written by Rachel Eddins

Posted in Trauma, Grief & Loss and with tags: grief and loss, sleep

Man not getting sleep because of grief

Our sleep is a delicate matter. We all know that keeping up with quality sleep is a critical component to our overall health and well-being, but sometimes life gets in the way of things and disrupts our usual sleeping patterns.

In stressful or busy periods of our lives, sleep becomes more challenging to prioritize. Other times, there are more ethereal concerns interfering with our sleep that aren’t so tangible. Added stress on the brain, hormonal changes, or even going through periods of bereavement are common culprits that steal our sleep away from us.

Grieving is difficult enough. Not being able to sleep well on top of that is nearly too much to bear. Let us help you navigate through this challenging time and explore how you can manage to sleep while going through a period of grief.

Grief & Sleep

When we lose loved ones, friends, family members, or even pets we can experience a distressing period of grief. The physical and emotional symptoms which can accompany this time can harm our overall health and also our sleep. These include:

• Fatigue
• Trouble concentrating
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Changes in appetite
• Digestive complications

Generally, grieving is a stress-inducing process. Along with the other symptoms, the stress of grieving is enough to interfere with our ability to relax, clear our minds, and sleep peacefully at night.

Grieving is a natural process, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, however if you leave issues untreated you can damage your health in the long run. Grief that extends past a six-month period is typically diagnosed as complicated grief (CG). Those who become trapped in a prolonged period of grief and suffer from sleep deprivation at the same time will be compromising their own well-being.

It’s important to prioritize yourself and take action to help yourself heal. If you have difficulties sleeping while going through a period of grief, here’s what you can do.

Keep a routine

Losing a loved one can throw off your whole routine. One of the best things you can do for yourself is try to get that back.

A consistent routine for your sleep schedule is especially important when you’re facing challenges getting proper sleep at night. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day helps your body learn a schedule and adjust accordingly. Humans are creatures of habit after all.

To help ease you into falling asleep easier, create a wind down routine that you can incorporate into your evenings. This will provide a great opportunity for some self-care, stress relief, and relaxation. Consider meditating, stretching, reading a book, listening to music, taking a warm bath, or anything else that helps calm your mind and body.

Adopt (or continue) healthy habits

It’s not uncommon for people who are grieving to start to neglect themselves. When you start neglecting one part of your health, it’s likely that other parts will start to suffer such as your sleep.

While slipping into an unhealthy diet of comfort foods may seem tempting, you should strive to maintain a healthy diet, particularly because what you eat can sabotage your sleep. Caffeine is a normal component of your diet, but you should limit it in the afternoons as it will stimulate you and may leave you feeling on edge at bedtime.

Another common reason people have challenges sleeping has to do with lack of exercise. It’s understandable that grieving drags your emotions down and makes you less likely to want to engage in physical activity, but if you don’t get yourself moving, you’ll only be feeding a vicious cycle. Exercise helps to clear your mind and lower stress levels. Getting up and exercising can be part of what helps you move through your period of grief, so you should try to continue your regular exercise patterns.

Update your bedroom

In a period of change as you adjust to losing a loved one, adjusting your bedroom may seem like too much to handle, but updating your bedroom can be an especially healing activity for those who lost a loved one that they shared a bed with.

Finding a new bed that won’t hold painful memories may make moving through grief easier for you. Your mattress type also plays a big role in your ability to get comfortable, fall asleep, and stay asleep so replacing yours could also help improve your sleep.

This can be a good time to re-evaluate your entire bedroom in general. Paint it a new, neutral color that’s more calming or add decor that uplifts your mood. Optimize the environment for more peaceful rest by hanging up darker curtains to block out light and adding a white noise machine to lull you to sleep each night.

Start Journaling

Anytime you experience any type of stress, journaling can be a great way to help you work through your emotions and take some of the weight off of you. Bottling up your emotions eventually becomes too much of a burden to bear. Expressing them through writing about how you feel can help you process your emotions.

Speak with a counselor

There comes a time when we all must admit that we can’t get through something on our own. If you consistently experience difficulties getting sleep while you’re grieving, consider speaking with a counselor. If you find yourself having trouble moving through your grief and sleeping, contact Eddins Counseling Group at 832-559-2622 to speak with a qualified grief and loss therapist or book an appointment online.

Author’s bio: Ashley Little is a writer from Mattress Advisor, a leading mattress reviews site that helps others get their best night of sleep each night. She’s perfected her wind-down routine to include dimming the lights, burning a few candles, and reading a great book each night.

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