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After the loss of a family member or close friend, it’s common for grieving loved ones to experience major changes in how they function throughout their day-to-day lives. Some people have extreme changes in appetite, either losing it completely or gaining weight from overeating. They may lose motivation for doing things they normally love to do, and letting stress take over can be disastrous for other areas of their lives. If these symptoms sound familiar, they are also common symptoms of depression. And just like depression, grief can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of sleep.
Sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, hormone disruption, and an increased risk in chronic illness. But perhaps most dangerous is the impact that a lack of sleep can have on a person’s mental health—especially when they are already struggling with grief. The combination of grief and sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, depression, clumsiness, moodiness, irritability, and confusion. If you are grieving and it’s affecting your sleep, revisit your sleep routines and adjust them according to your current needs.
Redo the Room
If you’ve lost your spouse, your cozy bedroom can suddenly feel like a cell of memories. While watching TV or surfing the web may be helpful evening distractions, doing it right before bed actually prevents the brain from releasing hormones that help the body fall asleep. It may be best to remove these electronics from the bedroom and refrain from using a phone or tablet before bedtime. Instead, outfitting your bedroom with sleep-friendly gadgets can make it more comfortable and conducive to sleep.
Improving the air quality can also make a big impact on your sleep, particularly if anyone in the home is a smoker or suffers from allergies. A commonly overlooked source of allergens is your chimney, so be sure to look into chimney cleaning services. Adding an air purifier removes pollutants including smoke, dander, and dust while preventing asthma and allergy symptoms that keep you up at night. In addition to promoting better sleep through clean air, an air purifier is also a source of white noise that can help the mind relax and fall into a deep slumber.
Now may also be a good time to upgrade your mattress. Don’t compromise your sleep—get the perfect mattress for your sleep position and age range. Sometimes investing in something big can encourage us to make the best use of it.
Work it Out
The best thing you can do when you’re feeling stuck in grief is find something else to take your focus. Exercise can be the perfect meditative hobby, and it also provides some great physical benefits. Healthline points out that even a light workout releases feel-good endorphins and balances neurotransmitters including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Regular exercise also helps regulate appetite and body weight, countering some negative effects grief may have on these things.
Perhaps most importantly, exercising during the day allows the body to release enough energy so the body can effectively fall asleep at night. According to The Sleep Doctor, exercise helps you sleep because it reduces sleep-depriving stress and anxiety you experience. When you do fall asleep, your rest is deeper and more satisfying. People who work out regularly are able to sleep longer so they are rejuvenated for the next day. Exercise can also improve your immune response so you experience fewer sleep-depriving illnesses.
If you have recently lost a loved one, it’s likely you are experiencing sleep disruption. It’s important to correct this sleep disruption because over time you can accumulate sleep debt and develop mental health issues. Establishing a healthy sleep routine is important, but making a few changes to the bedroom can be a catalyst for change if you’re having a rough time. Remove blue light-emitting electronics and invest in a mattress that meets your specific needs. Finally, adding exercise into your daily routine can make you feel better during the day and sleep better at night.
This article is brought to you by Brewer Physical Therapy, where we take a personalized, one-on-one approach to your care. For one thing, you’ll always be seen by your physical therapist, not an aide. We take the time to get to know you and your challenges so that week by week, we can track your progress and partner with you on your road to recovery. For more information, contact us today!