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Who would have thought 5 little letters could mean so much, but if your world has been thrown into chaos by the loss of a loved one, they mean a lot.
Sleep is one of the things that is greatly affected by our grief and is a symptom often of the great upheaval happening in our body, our mind, our heart and our life.
There will be some of you, like this fella, who could sleep soundly for many hours the grief has just knocked you out totally! Unfortunately for many others who are grieving, there are a myriad of sleep problems that will assault you:
Can’t get to sleep.
Get to sleep but sleep poorly and wake frequently.
Are troubled by nightmares when you do sleep.
Sleep fine during the day, could sleep forever but once it’s night-time, forget it!
So what to do?
Here are some ideas which you might not have considered and may want to try. As always, it’s your grief. Do what feels right for you and it’s up to you to make sure it’s safe for you and doesn’t conflict with any health conditions you may have or medication you are taking. Look after you; this is not medical advice, its information only.
Give yourself a fighting chance:
Before night falls we’re often up against it. Without even realising it we’ve begun to associate bed with being awake. We’ve firmly planted the seed of impossibility into our behaviours and our brains, it’s become hardwired. Couple this with the perpetual worry about coping with the next day and the days that follow and we are struggling big time.
1. Accept that you may not sleep – choose to rest instead.
2. Make the place you lie down to rest comfortable. Buy a new rug, put up a peaceful picture, and surround yourself with things that soothe your whole self.
3. Remove the clock from the beside – keep something under the bed if you need an alarm.
Relax your body as much as possible:
4. Develop a getting ready for sleep routine, your brain will start to recognise that.
5. Have a relaxing bath before bed, perhaps with some fragrant oil.
6. Try some gentle yoga with deep breathing.
7. Relax your body – tense each part of your body sequentially and relax. Don’t forget your jaw.
8. Find a relaxation CD or guided imagery CD you use before bed or in bed.
9. Try a herbal tea such as valerian tea, it also comes in a supplement form.
10. Melatonin supplements are being used now, as always seek medical advice first.
11. Some essential oils may assist with insomnia.
12. Put on some background music. Nothing stimulating, nothing that arouses and stresses your emotions – peaceful and gentle. Use the sleep timer if you have one on the CD or MP3 player and lie down with the music playing.
There’s no off switch on your brain:
You’re exhausted, flop into bed and it comes alive. The images, the thoughts, those moments, the shoulds, the what ifs – it all floods in with a relentless fury. Just when you want to sleep, it’s somehow awake and won’t stop its infernal chatter. There’s a couple of things you can try here – distracting and going with the flow.
13. Stop! Replace thoughts with a peaceful image, a beautiful place.
14. Start counting 1-10, reverse, repeat.
15. Put your guided imagery CD back on.
16. Pick a soothing word and say it in your mind…pick another.
17. Breathe in and out as you count.
18. Often being in bed is a quiet place for the thoughts to come, but we don’t want them coming whilst we’re trying to quieten our mind and rest. So get up.
19. Let them come during the day or when you get up. Give yourself 10 minutes for them to do their stuff. Write a couple of words which sums up the overdrive. Once it’s out on paper, it gets some of it out of your head. You can then start thinking about what’s going to help you most with that.
20. If you can’t sleep get up, have a snack and watch something on TV (nothing too stimulating). Pre-record or have a selection of ‘can’t sleep’ movies or programmes set aside.
21. Keep a magazine or book by the bedside to dip into. Electronic devices are great for this – pre load them with ‘take your mind off it’ easy stuff to read.
Simplify your life:
Often we worry so much about our lack of sleep because we have stuff to do the next day. Go to work; look after the kids or the grandkids. It puts huge pressure on us.
22. Plan to have a day once or twice a week where you re-schedule the commitments that you have. Get someone to mind the kids, see if you can flexi your work start time.
23. Whilst it may be tempting and maybe necessary sometimes, know that if you sleep the day away, the nights are going to be a problem. You decide.
24. See your doctor if you really are rock bottom and nothing works. We all need help from time to time.
25. Be gentle on you. You are dealing with so very much. Know this is normal, you are normal and you are doing the very best you can.
write by Eunice