Great Sleep After Loss Starts with Taking Care Of Your Mind and Body
The mind and body are connected in ways that we can’t even begin to comprehend. What we do understand is that sadness and grief result in very real physical symptoms, including diminished pain tolerance. This is evident in everything we do, especially when we try to get a good night of sleep. If you are struggling to get the rest you need, keep reading for a few small changes that can help as you adapt to a new way of living after losing a loved one.
Make new connections.
When you lose someone you love, it is often difficult to express how you feel, especially with those who knew you before the loss. Sometimes, it can help to create a new network of people who understand where you’ve been and where you are going.
With that in mind, download the AMF App to gain access to supportive messages, grief resources, video and long-form content, and other tools. If you register, you can connect with the new community. Without registration, you will still have access to the tools listed above. Seniors, by the way, should look to the “General Group” and have no registration requirements. Search “Actively Moving Forward” in your preferred app store to get started.
Listen to your body.
When you are in the early stages of grief, the simple act of moving can feel as though you’re fighting atrophy from the inside out. Even though your actual pain may be the same, the way you interpret it might be different.
When pain, especially back pain, keeps you up through the night, something as simple as changing your mattress may help. Keep in mind different types of mattresses help different types of pain for various sleep styles. If you’re a back sleeper with lower back pain, you’ll want a firmer model. For side sleepers with upper back pain between the shoulders, a softer surface is a better choice.
Changing your mattress is also a step toward turning your bedroom into your personal sanctuary if you’re suffering through the loss of a spouse.
Feed your body well.
Food is often front and center in the days and weeks following a death. But once the life celebrations have ended, it can be difficult mentally and physically to feed yourself nutritious meals. But you must eat, and what you eat can have a significant effect on the quality of your sleep. Taste of Home lists dairy, bananas, fish, and oats as a few of the foods that can promote healthful sleep.
Although you may not feel much like whipping up a four-course meal each evening, do try to focus on foods that provide a range of nutrients, including magnesium, B vitamins, and melatonin, and when all else fails, add well-chosen supplements to help.
You can even make selections that support you in other ways. For instance, some magnesium supplements are particularly good at promoting cognitive function, and some are better for reducing stress. Do your research to find something that works for you in all regards
Give yourself a helping hand.
If you have always enjoyed restorative sleep, you might be completely caught off guard by how difficult it is to achieve after the death of someone you love. Give yourself permission to make changes to your space, especially if it is a space you once shared.
Things like a smart home speaker, which you can use to play soothing music or nature sounds, and comfortable pillows can take your mind off the familiar sensation of your bedroom and lull you into a relaxed state.
Exercise every day.
It seems that every article you’ll read promotes exercise for one reason or another. There is a very good reason for that, and this is because exercise does so much more than simply tone our muscles.
For one, exercise triggers endorphins, which are chemicals that travel throughout the body to make you feel good. Aetna explains that getting your heart rate up also releases norepinephrine, which, like endorphins, is a chemical made by the body. Norepinephrine is thought to help the brain handle stress.
There is nothing that can give you back the life you had. But part of moving forward is learning how to reclaim little pieces of you. Your ability to sleep well is one of these, and you owe it to yourself to create your best chance at healing one small step at a time.
Written by: Lucille Rosetti, TheBereaved.org
Photo Credit: Pexels