If you’re having trouble sleeping after the loss of a loved one, you’re not alone.

Sleeplessness is one of the most common symptoms experienced by people in grief. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation makes everything else in life much more difficult, affecting your ability to handle emotions and make complex decisions during the day. It's important to address issues such as poor sleep so that you can give your brain the much-needed rest it requires during this stressful time. Hopefully, these tips can provide some relief.

1. Calm Your Body and Mind

The emotional strain of a loss can be exhausting. However, a racing mind will keep you awake no matter how much your body needs sleep. You can try to quiet these thoughts by practicing calming activities before bed. Relaxation exercises like guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and deep breathing will tell an anxious mind that it's okay to relax. You can also get nagging thoughts and worries out of your head by jotting them down in a notebook. Limit the stress in your home by reducing clutter, adding some house plants, and investing in an oil diffuser.

2. Redecorate Your Bedroom

Losing a spouse often transforms the bedroom into a lonely and sad area of the home. This discomfort, along with any existing distractions, can really hamper your ability to sleep. You may want to remove your spouse's belongings and redecorate the room so it's focused entirely on rest and relaxation. The Sleep Judge recommends painting your walls a soothing shade of blue or green to promote feelings of calm. It’s also important to keep your room dark, cool, and quiet during the night to give your body the best chance at a quality sleep. So, invest in some simple sleep gadgets like a cooling fan, a white noise machine, blackout curtains, or a sleep mask.

"Getting used to sleeping again after losing a loved one can take some time. Emotions tend to run wild when we’re alone with our thoughts and exhausted at the end of the day."
Sara Bailey



3. Get Your Body Moving

Part of nurturing yourself through grief involves taking care of your body. It’s important to practice self-care during this time since both grief and sleeplessness can really take a hit on your wellness. Getting your body moving is an excellent way to participate in self-care. Plus, exercise can help improve your sleep by reducing stress and using up excess energy in the body. If you have trouble feeling rested when you get up in the morning, going on a long run can be a great way to jump-start your day. Alternatively, getting some exercise a couple of hours before bed can help tire you out. Find an exercise type and schedule that works for you.

4. Develop a Consistent Sleep Schedule

In the chaos following the loss of a loved one, life can feel a bit out of control. Sticking to a consistent bedtime schedule can be valuable since it will add some structure to your day. Maintaining a regular sleep and wake schedule can also help your body slip into sleep more quickly. It's a good idea to participate in a pre-bedtime ritual to get your body used to your new sleep schedule. During this time, perform activities that you already do before bed, like brushing your teeth, washing your face, or reading. Then, consider adding some enjoyable, calming activities like sipping chamomile tea or taking a hot bath.

5. Limit Sleep-Disrupting Food and Drink

Many of us like to snack in the evening, but late-night bingeing may be one of the biggest things preventing you from getting some sleep at night. Avoid fatty foods like cheese, ice cream, milk, and meat before bed. Even a cup of coffee consumed in the early afternoon can keep you awake at night. Saatva also recommends avoiding alcohol before bed since it prevents us from reaching restorative levels of deep sleep.

Getting used to sleeping again after losing a loved one can take some time. Emotions tend to run wild when we’re alone with our thoughts and exhausted at the end of the day. If you just can’t fall asleep no matter what you do, don’t lay there feeling frustrated. It can be helpful to get up and read a book or listen to some music until you start to feel sleepy again. If your sleeplessness does not improve, consider talking to your doctor about potential health issues that may be preventing your sleep.

This is a featured guest blog, written by Sara Bailey, a Widow and writer of self-help information for those going through the loss of an intimate partner. Her website can be found here.

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