Tell me if this sounds like you. You’ve had a long day & maybe an even longer week. You get home & climb in ready to sleep. But sleep doesn’t come. At least not a restful one. You’re up & down & tossing & turning.
When I had kids I quickly discovered that I needed to do everything in my power to get them to sleep & stay sleep. Especially once daylight savings time hits & messes everything up.
That meant white noise machines, blackout curtains, routines, cutting off TVs before bed, & ending food & drink before bed.
It’s the same thing for adults when we need to sleep. We need to take the right steps to creating a healthy sleep environment.
On average, adults should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period.
Not getting enough sleep can be caused from a number of factors,
- Bad dreams
- Intrusive thoughts
But because I’m all about helping you with your grief. We’re going to focus on how grief affects your sleep & tips on how to fix it.
After the loss of a loved one it’s normal to start to experience a change in sleep patterns. Some people may either be tired all of the time or have difficulty with sleep.
More often than not, many of us don’t even realize that we’re missing out on a good night’s sleep. However fatigue can lead to many more symptoms including:
- Lowered immunity
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loss of emotional control
Long term sleep effects could also lead to more serious effects such as stroke & heart disease. So let’s walk through how to get a good night’s sleep.
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Establish A Night Routine
Having a bedtime routine is a great way to alert your body that it’s time for bed. The key to making a bedtime routine stick is to be consistent.
Here are a few of the benefits to having a night routine:
- Prevents potential distractions & stress the next day
- Effective use of time
- Makes your morning run smoother
- Helps give you a better night’s sleep
What? You already eat dinner? Well yes but this is a matter of balance.
We often either don’t eat enough or we eat too much. Then we either eat too early which causes us to eat a heavy snack later or we eat full meals too late.
So how do you find balance? To help with digestion, it’s generally recommended to eat 2-3 hours before bed. When you’re meal planning try find healthy meals.
Please remember not to starve yourself. If you’re hungry & you ate dinner at 6pm & it’s now 10pm…eat a freaking snack. Not a 4th meal but a healthy snack. Try some berries or apples.
Finding that balance & eating a healthy dinner will actually help your body to sleep better & reduce chances of insomnia.
When I say cleanup I mean tidying up odds & ends. Not full on cleaning.
- Wash dishes
- Put away laundry
- Put away toys
- Sort the mail
These are all little things that you can quickly do so that you don’t have to worry about it tomorrow. It doesn’t have to take long. Set a timer for 20-30 minutes.
Living in a cleaner environment can drastically reduce your stress levels.
Prepare For The Next Day
Before going to bed, set up everything that you can for the next day. Why? Because it eliminates have to worry about last minute stressors.
- Take out clothing
- Pack lunch & snacks
- Set reminders
Even if you’re not a fan of routines, you need to start making time for YOU. Self care is overlooked a lot, especially while you’re grieving. We tend to care more for others than ourselves.
Set aside time every night for self care. Here’s some ideas if you don’t know where to begin:
- Read a book
- Take a bath
- Color (yes, coloring books are for adults too)
Turn Off The TV
Turn the tv off at least 30 minutes before going to bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, just the light from television is extremely stimulating to the brain & can stop you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Plus it’s easy to get caught up binge watching.
Use that 30 minutes to truly unwind. Listen to music, have quiet time, or start your hygiene routine.
Reflect On The Day
Think back on how your day went. What was great? What was bad? What could be improved? Make note of these things.
But, do not hone in on everything that went wrong. That will just cause unnecessary stress & bum you out. You want to reflect so that you can make improvements.
Have A Bedtime
I know you’re not 8 years old. But having a consistent bedtime will drastically change your life.
Why? Because we’re letting our body’s know that bedtime is about the same time every night. Your internal clock will be set. Which will make it a lot easier to fall asleep every night.
Still not convinced? Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can cause “foggy” brain, anxiety, & mood swings. Even more shocking is that there is a connection between lack of sleep & major health issues including heart disease.
Create A Sleep Environment
Creating a healthy sleep environment will help your mind & both start to settle for bedtime.
Turn Off The Lights
When I say turn off the lights, I do mean all of the lights. Just like I mentioned above, there should be no TV light on. But you should also invest in black out curtains.
Studies have shown that even the smallest amounts of light can decrease your Melatonin levels. This isn’t good. Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces that controls your sleeping & waking patterns.
Your bedroom may also have other forms of artificial light in it such as alarm clocks, cell phones, table lamps, even tablet screens. These devices can be turned off or you can simply cover them or flip them upside down so that the light isn’t showing.
You can also use an eye mask to block out light. I’ve tried several different ones & this one by Alaska Bear is by far my favorite.
The temperature in your bedroom is another element to creating a great sleep environment. If your room temperature is too hot or too cold, you simply won’t sleep well.
Your body naturally cools down at night while you sleep. This transition happens smoother when your room is already set to a cooler temperature.
Most studies show that you can have a better sleep when your room temperature is set somewhere between 61-68 degrees.
If that seems cold to you, then you can wear socks to bed or add another blanket. However, on the flip side of that you don’t want to add so many blanket layers that you get too warm & defeat the purpose of sleeping in a cooler room.
The main purpose of having some type of noise playing in a room while you sleep is to cancel out other outside noises.
In our house each room seems to be different. We have white noise, rain falls, & slow classical musical.
The choice is yours as to what to play. Pay attention to what sounds are more relaxing to you.
I suggest using a free white noise app on an old cell phone. There are tons of options for them out there.
If you don’t have an old phone laying around then you can purchase a sound machine such as, this one by Big Red Rooster.
More Tips To Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
- A good mattress can affect your sleep patterns. Invest in a good mattress & be sure to try it before you buy it. In the world of online shopping it’s tempting to just order one. But you need to test it out for yourself!
- Prop your feet up at a 90 angle for 30 minutes before bed. Studies have shown that it will help reduce swelling & lower blood pressure.
- Sleep in a well ventilated room.
- If you’ve lost your partner, then it can be hard to sleep alone. Try adding a body pillow to the bed to add the sense of not sleeping alone. Sadly, it only may help in the transition.
- Avoid taking naps late in the day.
- Avoid taking naps over 2-3 hours.
- Don’t drink caffeine 5 hours before bed. You’d be surprised at how long caffeine can stay in your system.
- Try to exercise at some point during the day, but not right before bed.
- If you can’t shut your mind down, get up & journal about what’s going on in your mind.
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