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How to Improve Your Sleep
When You’re Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

These steps might help you deal with grief and inability to sleep

How do you function after losing a loved one? You can’t eat, sleep, or hold yourself together. Your mind is racing, and your heart is hurting. Grief is not conducive to good health. It’s difficult to fall asleep when your thoughts are consumed with the memory of your loved one. Here are some ways you can do to promote restful sleep during this emotionally trying time.

Loss of loved one causes grief and disrupts sleep
The loss of a loved one can be particularly devastating in one's life, causing sadness and grief,
that affect one's health on many levels, including an inability to sleep. (Photo by Pixabay)

What to Do Before Bed

Get on a schedule to set your internal clock and perform the same bedtime ritual every night. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule every day will ensure consistent sleep. Your circadian rhythm will adjust and you’ll feel tired around the same time each day.

Try journaling to help you express and record your feelings of grief and to let go of any stress. Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to sleep at night, but writing your thoughts down in a journal can be therapeutic.

Perform calming techniques like deep breathing and meditation to relax your body and shut down your mind.

What Not to Do Before Bed

What you avoid doing before bed can be just as important as what you do. Avoiding caffeine is a no-brainer. We drink caffeine to wake up in the morning, so it’s counterintuitive to drink it before bed. Heavy, fatty foods and alcohol can affect your sleep too. You might pass out faster from consuming those things, but your sleep quality will suffer.

Another nighttime no-no is electronic devices. Watching television or playing on tech such as a smartphone or tablet stimulates your brain and prevents you from getting tired. The light from the screen also inhibits the production of melatonin. Put away your phone and shut off the TV 30 minutes before bedtime and consider moving all devices out of the bedroom.

Sleep Gadgets

Not every electronic device stops you from getting a good night’s rest. These advances in technology can help you sleep better. From anti-snoring devices to gentle biological alarm clocks to lights that help you fall asleep, there’s an answer for every insomniac’s nuisance. However, look out for gimmicks that don’t help you sleep. While they’re neat devices, sleep trackers that provide no other function might not help you get better sleep.

Disruptive sleep can have negative health consequences

The inability to sleep can be harmful to one's physical and psychological wellbeing,
especially during the grieving period from the loss of a loved one. (Photo credit: Unsplash)

Changing Your Sleeping Quarters

Your sleep environment can have a big impact on how restful your slumber is. You might want to rearrange and clean the bedroom to promote better energy flow, add an air purifier, or put up blackout curtains to keep the sun from waking you at dawn. If you’re dealing with the loss of a spouse, changing the environment that you slept in together could help you move on.

You’ll also sleep better with clean sheets, a supportive pillow, and a high quality mattress. Mattresses should be replaced every eight to 10 years. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, a new mattress might change things. There are a variety of mattresses for different sleep types made of different materials.


It’s important to practice self-care during the grieving process, particularly if you’re having trouble falling asleep. One way to do this is to get up, get outside, and get some exercise. For example, if you enjoy running, head to a local park and get some fresh air. Or, take out your old bicycle and enjoy a leisurely ride through the neighborhood. Exercising during the day will drain your energy and help you rest better at night, but avoid exercising at night because it will keep you pumped up and awake longer.

Losing a loved one is devastating, but the loss of a spouse can be especially difficult because it feels like a piece of you is gone. You might not want to return to the home your shared, let alone your bedroom. Eventually, you have to move on and take care of yourself. Make the changes you need to feel whole at home again. Give yourself the good night’s rest that you deserve while your loved one rests in peace.

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