Grief has a devastating effect on those suffering from loss. Unfortunately, the bereaved find little solace from sleep. As a result, sleep deprivation due to grief can be dangerous both physically and mentally. But poor or interrupted sleep, like grief, can be worked so those suffering can move on.
Grief mixes up the emotions and preoccupies the minds of those suffering from it. Sleep deprivation comes naturally, as victims struggle to get to sleep when left alone with their thoughts. It is as common as it is tragic, and it doesn’t stop there. Loss of sleep causes fatigue, irritability, depression, emotional instability and anger. These feelings fuel grief and exacerbate it, leading to more loss of sleep.
The Long-Term Dangers
It may seem natural for the bereaved to experience feelings of isolation, or demonstrate irritability, sadness and anger but the effects go beyond mental. Serious physical effects which can even lead to greater risk of Alzheimer’s or in some cases, even death. Sleep loss and deprivation should not be seen as natural and likely will not go away on its own. Those suffering must act to prevent serious long-term effects.
Getting Sleep Back
There are a variety of ways the bereaved can get to sleep faster and more reliably. Everyone is different, however, so some experimentation and determination might be required.
- Habits: Creating a routine is a good way to inform the body that it is time to sleep. Going to bed at the same time and performing rituals beforehand helps with creating a sense of normalcy. Strenuous activities that can cause anxiety should be avoided close to bedtime and soothing activities such as reading, listening to music, turning the lights down or taking a warm shower should be repeated nightly.
- Diet:Alcohol and caffeine late in the day can prolong wakefulness. Warm water or milk can calm the body shortly before bedtime.
- Environment:Complete darkness can aid sleep and is achievable with blackout curtains or an eye mask. White noise in the form of a fan or a white noise machine helps to dull the senses. Also, the bedroom should be maintained as a place solely for sleeping so other activities, especially using electronic devices, should not take place there.
- Equipment:There are many tools and devices to aid with sleep including heating pads, special pillows and better mattresses.
- Eyes off the screen: Many of us watch the TV or surf the net immediately before bedtime. But the effects of looking at a screen are one of the biggest factors in keeping the brain awake and preventing sleep. Switch off the television, put away the smartphone and instead, try listening to some relaxing music or even a good audiobook.
Loss of sleep can make a bad situation worse and does not have to be an unfortunate inevitability. Taking steps to get better sleep helps those suffering from grief to heal and be healthy. After all, a new study shows that getting a proper amount of sleep can positively affect your life outlook.
Content provided by Sally Writes.