How to Calm Your Body and Mind for Sleep After a Loss

This post is provided by guest blogger, Sara Bailey. Sara is a widow and she writes about loss as a way to help her heal and to offer hope to others who’ve suffered a loss.

From her personal experience, the most difficult thing to do after the loss of a loved one is just sleep. For Sara, it was a combination of being overtired (both physically and emotionally) and overwhelmed by the thought of sleeping in the bed I used to share with my husband. 

Please see her article below.

Recovery from the passing of a loved one is something that often takes months to even begin. Throughout the whole bereavement process, you can experience sleeplessness, loneliness, and depression. Getting more sleep can really make a difference in taking care of yourself and helping yourself move through your grief. If you’re struggling with sleep, here are a few ways you can improve it.

Move your body

Data has shown a clear association between not getting enough exercise and poor sleep. This is sometimes because people work out too close to the time they plan on going to bed. On the other hand, some people find that tuckering themselves out before going to sleep is a perfect technique. Either way, get your body moving and move it regularly. Caring for yourself can be as simple as taking a walk, going for a run, or taking a yoga class.

Reduce stress before bed

When grieving, it’s common to have a lot of thoughts swirl around in your head. Some articles recommend relaxing activities like reading a book, writing in a journal, or meditating before you go to sleep to help quiet your mind. Try some of these methods to see which ones work. It may take time before you see the benefits, but be patient as you practice.

Quiet the noise

Experts explain that white noise machines work by canceling out background noise that might otherwise prevent you from falling asleep or staying asleep. They work for some people, especially when they’re able to create a routine using it. You can find white noise machines that exude different types of noise and can be soothing for you. 

Direct your diet

Certain foods can cause heartburn or a sugar rush before bed, which can keep us up and put our bodies into energy mode. Avoid sugary and fatty foods but also avoid some citrus foods that can keep you up as well. A high-fiber diet can also make a difference in helping you sleep better.

Try breathing techniques

Simple breathing techniques can help you relax. Some breathing-technique masters even claim to know methods that can help people fall asleep within a minute. While these might not work for everyone, different breathing techniques can help individuals to relax their bodies and sleep easier. Try breathing in for five seconds, holding your breath for five seconds, and then letting out your breath for another five seconds. It’s simple, but it can help.

Plan a sleeping schedule

Many people find that winding down at the end of a long day by watching TV or going on their phone is a relaxing way to fall asleep. However, it’s important to remember that the light from electronics can throw off the body’s natural clock. Give yourself a sleeping schedule to avoid this. At least 30 minutes before bed, turn off any electronics you may have and start the preparation process for bed. It will help you wind down more easily.

Track your body’s sleep metrics

Alarm clocks, beds, sleep masks, and other pieces of technology have been engineered to track your respiratory rate, body temperature, and brain waves to help you optimize your sleep and feel great. Try some of these gadgets to measure your sleep and see if they help. 

The way to improve sleep will vary widely for everyone. For some people, changing a mattress will offer needed support. Others will require extensive overhauls of their sleep routine. It can take a little trial and error. Be patient with yourself and recognize that it’ll take time, but you can eventually get some much-needed sleep.

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