7 Ways to Sleep Better When You’re Grieving

Grief is a complex emotion and the period following the loss of a loved one can be a profoundly painful, complicated process. Usually, one of the first things that’s negatively affected is one’s sleep. As difficult as it may seem, you need to do everything you can to ensure you get quality, restful sleep at night so that you are strong enough to get through this trying time. Here are some tips from Shasta Hickman to help you through this challenging time.

1. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a broad term, but the simple definition is doing things that help improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health. It’s taking “me time”-whether that’s pampering yourself, practicing yoga, or getting out and going on a hike. One of the most important acts of self-care is exercising daily, which can be going for a jog or walking the dog, but make sure you get some movement every single day. To make it a little easier on yourself, include some earbuds so you can listen to music and a fitness tracker with a durable band to record your progress. Not only will this help to alleviate your mind, it can also aid in making your body more physically tired at night than it otherwise would be. You should also incorporate some stress-relieving techniques like mindful breathing, meditation, and saying “no” to unnecessary obligations.

2. Get a mattress that suits your sleep style

Even though our mattress is usually the last thing on our minds, what you sleep on every night is actually very important. You should consider switching your old mattress for one that is best suited for your sleep style, whether that be side, back, or stomach.

3. Fix your snoring

Most of us snore to some degree-even if we don’t really know it. Snoring interrupts our restful sleep cycles which can leave us feeling tired in the morning. One way to fix your snoring is to monitor your sleep with an app and then deploy some sleep tech to help adjust your head and neck position automatically. There are app-enabled inflatable under-pillows for this specific task.

4. Stop drinking caffeine late in the day

Grab a cup or two of morning joe and then switch to decaffeinated beverages for the rest of the day. Caffeine Informer reports that caffeine has been shown to negatively affect sleep quality, and the stimulant stays in your system much longer than you think. You should really avoid caffeine after lunch, if possible.

5. Stop eating two hours before bedtime

Active digestion can keep you awake, so if you eat a snack right before bed you will likely have trouble falling and staying asleep. According to the food experts at Delish, one food to especially avoid close to bedtime is chocolate. It possesses the trio of things that disrupt sleep: small amounts of caffeine, fat, and sugar. Other foods to avoid include pasta, celery (a natural diuretic), milk, and red meat.

6. Limit your screen time

We know that the artificial light emitted from phones, computers, and even TV screens hampers production of melatonin-the compound that makes you sleepy and keeps you down once you are out. So it’s vital that you limit your screen time throughout the day and especially at night. Try reading a book instead.

7. Get more natural light

Just as artificial blue light from your phone hurts your sleep, scientists believe that natural light helps it. That’s because it lets your brain know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to be asleep (also known as your circadian rhythms). So open the curtains when you’re at home during the day and get outside as often as you can.

Many of the things that help improve your sleep quality-exercise, getting outside, eating healthy, and limiting your intake of toxins-will also help your overall mental health. It’s a healthy goal to strive for: do things that improve your sleep quality and that quality sleep will improve all the other aspects of your daily life. Grief is hard and there’s no definite timeline for its completion, but focusing on getting proper sleep is a big step in the right direction.

Shasta Hickman works to help individuals, children, and families who are hurting, feeling stuck, or experiencing grief or loss. Call (971) 303-9868.

Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

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