If you’ve lost a loved one, you already know that you’re facing one of the hardest emotional experiences anyone can go through – and one that often results in insomnia. Despite your grief, though, getting the sleep your mind and body need is not impossible. Managing your grief and stress takes a little work and planning, but here are some suggestions from Dr. Stacy to get you back on the road to wellness.
Change Your Diet
What you eat has a lot to do with why you’re awake. Gorging on fatty foods, like pizza and burgers, causes indigestion, which prevents you from sleeping due to simple bodily discomfort. Stick with whole foods, like fruits, veggies and lean meats, in balanced meals spaced evenly throughout the day. You’ll feel much better for it.
Get Some Exercise
Getting moderate exercise can be as effective as prescription sleep medication in helping you sleep, as well as lessen stress and anxiety. While high intensity exercise is better for the morning, exercises such as walking, biking, or yoga that end at least an hour before bedtime can make you tired and make for a more restful sleep. Choose exercise that’s fun, and working out will be easy instead of a chore.
Stay Away from Caffeine
This one comes with a warning: if you wake up early, it is best to limit your intake of caffeine by noon or 2 pm. If you notice caffeine affecting how you sleep, stop drinking large amounts of coffee late in the afternoon. However, if you sleep late, caffeine may not affect you as much. Notice if changing your habits (either by lessening coffee or caffeine intake in the afternoon) affects your sleep patterns.
Give the Bedroom a Makeover
Start with the mattress. Your body has changed over the years, and the level of support that sufficed when you were younger is likely not the same as now. Before upgrading it, think about whether the walls are the right color, as a soothing tone of blue may put you to rest sooner.
Turn to Technology
Technology can help you in your quest to sleep more, such as an alarm clock that emits sleep-inducing light. You can use your smartphone and apps to remind you to get ready an hour before bed by winding down your activities and becoming slower, more meditative.
However, avoid the blue light emitted from your phone because this has been known to cause sleep disruption. You can simply turn the phone face down and put it on silent to remove the common distraction.
Talk to Someone
Grief can take its toll on anyone. No matter how hard you try, sometimes we just need a little outside assistance. Luckily, there are plenty of options for professional counseling, including options for virtual counseling that you can pursue from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, and it’s an ancient practice known for its effectiveness in promoting inner peace. Uma Srivatsa, a cardiologist, often “guides [her patients] to sit in a quiet place, focus their attention on one thing such as their breathing, count while taking a breath and hold it, and then count while letting the air out. The goal is to bring attention back to the one thing you’ve chosen to focus on.” Meditation may take a while for you to grasp, but continued practice helps you to become better and leads to a relaxed state before sleep.
Make It a Routine
Getting a good night’s sleep once is a great start, but you need to make it a habit. The best way to do that is by following a regular evening schedule that ends with you laying your head on the pillow at the same time every night, even on the weekends. That’ll keep your inner clock in sync.
Grief and stress are natural parts of life, but these tips should help you get the rest you need so that you can wake up feeling refreshed. Then you’ll be able to move on and find the happiness you deserve.