The following is a post from guest writer, Sara Bailey, about how to fall asleep while grieving. You can find more information from her at www.The Widow.net.
How to Fall Asleep While Grieving
If you are going through a traumatic experience like the death of a loved one, one of the first effects that you may notice on yourself is a general inability to go to sleep. You may find yourself staying up much later in the night, watching television or drinking alcohol to get your mind off of your situation, and not taking part in your healthy habits that keep you in a good place both mentally and physically. While it is important to give yourself time to grieve, it is equally critical that you continue to take care of yourself, even in such a difficult time as this. Neglecting your own needs will only make your grieving process last that much longer; by taking care of yourself and making sure you get an adequate amount of sleep each night, you will help yourself begin to wrap your mind around what has happened. Here are some steps you can take to make it easier to fall asleep the instant your head touches the pillow, so that you can wake up feeling refreshed in spite of your difficult circumstances.
Change your behaviors before bedtime
Start by changing the habits surrounding the time you go to bed. For instance, you may be feeling like you need large quantities of coffee or energy drinks to get you through the day. While there is nothing wrong with a cup of joe, experts say that drinking coffee anytime after noon potentially will have negative effects on your ability to fall asleep, due to how long caffeine stays in the bloodstream. To fix this, try to drink coffee in the mornings only – its residual effects will still carry you through the day if you need it.
Similarly, you may find that the evenings are easier if you have a drink or two. However, while it may seem like the depressant qualities of alcohol help you get to sleep, the sleep it provides is actually fitful and light. This is why it is best to refrain from having a drink within a couple hours of bedtime.
Finally, the same is true of electronics before bed. While television may seem like a soothing, mindless pastime, the blue light emitted by most TVs (as well as laptops and phones) negatively affects your ability to fall asleep. Instead, use the time just before bed to start preparing yourself to fall asleep. Try some deep breathing exercises to relax yourself. You may want to listen to some soothing music while reading a book if you still need some form of entertainment to distract your mind.
Change the nature of your bedroom
The nature of your bedroom can also be affecting your sleep, particularly if you shared a room with your departed loved one. Difficult as it may be, it will be beneficial to go through their things. This will free up more space in your room and remove some of the constant reminders of your loss. You may not be able to actually go through their belongings one by one just yet; instead, move them to another location, or even a storage unit.
In general, cleaning your bedroom will help make it easier to breathe and, eventually, fall asleep. It’s tempting to let your standards of cleanliness go when you’re grieving, but a clean room will help foster a clear mind. You can make it easier to breathe while you fall asleep by purchasing a humidifier for your room. Humidifiers moisturize the air, soothing your skin and nasal passages, making it easier to sleep comfortably. Blackout curtains or eye masks are other tools that can help you fall asleep in a difficult time.
The grieving process is hard enough without having to deal with insomnia and daily fatigue. By making a point to improve your routine to allow for better sleep, you are taking the first step toward healing.