Once we manage to get beyond the initial days following a loss, some of the hardest hours of grieving come at night. Watching the clock, counting sheep, tossing and turning — it can be then that we feel the most alone, and it’s when our heartaches heavily for our loved one. When you’re struggling with sleeplessness, these strategies outlined in this article can settle your thoughts and help you find restorative rest.
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Rethink Your Environment
Is your sleeping environment optimal for slumber? While you might assume having a bed and a dresser makes a bedroom all it would need to be, the Sleep Doctor points out that a proper environment can make a world of difference for sleeping. The room should be cool, with temperatures ranging from between 60 and 65, and if weather and other factors make it possible, open your windows to breathe fresh nighttime air. Make the room as dark and quiet as possible, and keep your bedroom a sanctuary. Select soothing colors for your decor to help quiet your mind and create a sense of peace. Avoid bold colors and instead select restful earth tones. Declutter and organize your bedroom to relieve anxiety. Also, ensure that your bed is properly supportive for your age and sleeping position, keeping in mind the lifespan of a mattress is generally between five and seven years.
Devices, Gadgets, and Gimmicks
You might be surprised to learn you can put technology to use in helping you get better sleep. There is an abundance of options available, from smart mattresses and sleep-inducing alarm clocks to sleep trackers that evaluate your patterns and make helpful recommendations. However, you should avoid using certain forms of electronic gadgetry in your bedroom, especially at night, since the various sounds and lights could interfere with slumber.
Check Your Daytime Activities
How well you sleep at night can, in part, be determined by what you do throughout the day. Exercise is a great example. Enjoying a vigorous workout early in the day can bump up your metabolism for good sleep later that night, although some experts feel vigorous activity close to bedtime can be detrimental, so schedule accordingly. It’s also important to spend some time outside every day. If your body is low on vitamin D, your sleep can suffer. So, aim for five to 10 minutes of sunshine each day for the best results.
Watch Your Eating Habits
What foods you consume and when you eat them can have a big impact on your ability to sleep well. If you’re in the habit of eating a heavy meal in the evening, some experts recommend finishing supper two to four hours before bedtime. There are also some specific foods that could interfere with your sleep, especially if you consume them late in the day. Avoid chocolate, ice cream, spicy foods, and high-fat selections like hamburgers in the late evening. Along with the foods you eat, make sure you’re getting enough calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B and E because these vitamins and minerals can promote a good night’s sleep. To guarantee you’re getting the nutrients you need, it’s a good idea to take a daily multivitamin.
Develop Healthy Patterns
You can actually train your body to fall asleep at a certain time by scheduling when you turn in each night, and then getting up at the same time every morning. Doing so builds a pattern that your body becomes accustomed to following, much like how we train small children to embrace a sleep schedule. Another suggestion is to develop a bedtime routine that helps quiet your mind and body each evening. This could include soothing actions such as sipping herbal tea, journaling and preparing your clothing for the next day. What will work tends to vary greatly by individual, so explore some options to see what is best for you. Reading a book, meditating, doing crossword puzzles, enjoying aromatherapy, or taking a warm bath are a few more ideas.
Losing someone you love is devastating, and nights can be especially painful. To help you cope, make some changes in your environment and habits so you can get some sleep. These solutions can help you receive some much-needed rest.
-By Virginia Cooper