This post is contributed and authored by Sara Bailey. Read more about Sara at TheWidow.net. Thank you, Sara!
It is common for grief to cause sleep issues including insomnia. While it may seem like a harmless symptom, the truth is that sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on your mental and physical health. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, the body doesn’t have time to regenerate and heal. Sleep deprivation is connected to high blood pressure and heart disease. It has the cognitive impairment abilities of alcohol and can lead to slurred speech, uncontrolled reflexes, an increased sensitivity to pain and increased sensitivity to seizures. As far as your mental health goes, the effects are spooky. Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, microsleeps, delirium and even hallucinations.
If you want to correct your sleep problems while grieving, it may be best to stay away from sleeping pills. While these medications can knock you out, you’re not actually getting quality rest when you take them. Instead, try altering your nightly routine and adapt some soothing healthy habits that help lull you to sleep naturally.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Did you know the air in your home is likely more polluted than the air outside? Indoor air pollution is a real problem, and it can really affect your sleep. If you have excess dirt, dust, dander, and other allergens in your room, you’re not going to be able to breathe easy at night. One way to improve your air quality is to clean your room regularly with a water filtration vacuum every three or four days. These special appliances use a small amount of water to pick up dirt from rugs and carpets, as well as dirt particles out of the air. They are especially useful for those who suffer from allergies to pet hair.
Another way to improve air circulation in your home is to open up your windows for a soothing breeze on sunny days. Add an air purifier for extra cleaning power and be sure to pick a filterless version that you can clean yourself instead of wasting money on disposable filters. Air purifiers have the added bonus of working as white-noise machines, which can also help when it comes to sleep issues.
Create a Sleep Sanctuary
When you were a kid, your room could be many things. It was a place to hang out with friends, do your homework, and generally have time to yourself. As an adult with your own place, you don’t need to keep all that activity in your bedroom. It should serve as a sanctuary of sleep. Invest in blackout curtains that eliminate night pollution. Make sure the room stays a steady 65 to 68 degrees with a personal fan or air conditioner. Remove all other electronics such as computers and televisions that can distract you when you’re trying to catch Zzzs.
Bereavement is the perfect time to embrace a new exercise regimen. Not only could you use the boost in endorphins, but it’s also the best way to ensure you’re able to fall asleep at night. Exercising in the late afternoon or early evening helps you expel all that excess energy you don’t use during the day, ensuring that you are tired by the time you hit the hay. Exercise improves sleep quality, increases the number of hours you sleep and reduces the amount of anxiety you feel that’s keeping you up at night.
If you’re grieving, it may be tempting to have a glass — or five — of wine to help numb the pain. The truth is, while you may feel better temporarily, alcohol is a depressant. You’ll feel even worse once its inebriating effects wear off. Furthermore, drinking alcohol before bed can seriously affect your sleep. Alcohol interferes with the body’s circadian rhythm, which disrupts many different systems and diminishes your sleep quality. People who drink before bed often find themselves falling asleep just fine, but once the alcohol leaves their body in the middle of the night it shocks their system and causes them to wake up. Unless you want to be staring at your ceiling at 3 a.m., skip the nightcap.
Grief and sleep deprivation go hand-in-hand. It’s important to do what you can to correct insomnia for the good of your physical and mental health. Set up a steady sleep routine with healthy habits, but also make sure your environment is conducive to rest. Improve your indoor air quality and remove distractions to make your room a sleep sanctuary. It’s not all about what you do at night, either — what you do during the day counts, as well. Exercise regularly for better sleep every night. Finally, while you may think alcohol helps you get to sleep, it’ll only makes it easier to fall asleep. In reality, it diminishes the value of your sleep and causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.