9 Helpful Ways to Improve Sleep After Losing a Loved One


We’re doing a little something different today. Whiskers On Kittens has her first guest blogger, Sara Bailey of TheWidow.net, a blog devoted to providing resources for those of us who have lost a loved one close to us. Sara herself is a widow and writes from her own experience, sharing what has worked for her and what hasn’t worked for her. As the holiday season is in full swing, when the absence of our loved ones is felt more keenly, I’ve invited Sara to share her thoughts, specifically on ways in which we can improve our self-care by ensuring a good night’s sleep. You’ll see that Sara echoes a favorite theme here at Whiskers- small steps forward. And please leave a comment for Sara to introduce yourself. Thanks, dear readers, and enjoy.

9 Helpful Way to Improve Sleep After Losing a Loved One


When a loved one passes away it often fundamentally disrupts the way that you live your daily life and can interfere with work, socializing and sleep habits. It’s especially important to get sleep during difficult times, as rest can make all the difference in rejuvenating your spirit.

I know because I’ve been there. My name is Sara Bailey, and I’m a widow. After my husband unexpectedly passed away, I struggled with nearly every aspect of my life for a long time. Sleep was one of the first things I lost and one of the last things I got back. As a result, one of the things I would tell anyone who is grieving after a loss is that sleep is self-care.

Here are a nine ways you can improve your sleep patterns during loss. From experience, it won’t be easy to make these habits a reality, but it will be so worth it.

1. Watch what you eat before bed

The passing of a loved one can influence many aspects of our lives, from the way we work to the food we eat. Foods including ice cream, pasta or cereal can spike your blood sugar and prevent your body from effectively managing metabolism through the night. This can result in you feeling more tired the day after or even craving unhealthy foods more the next day.

2. Exercise regularly

Guides focused on improving sleep often recommend aerobic exercise early in the day because it will leave you worn out by the time night rolls around. Taking care of yourself is an important part of the grieving process. Moving your body is one aspect of self-care. Do what makes you feel good, whether that’s taking a spin class or going for a long run or taking a dog for a walk.

3. Turn off the electronics early

The majority of people spend time with their electronics in bed, whether it’s a phone, laptop or watching TV. The blue light from these devices can disrupt your body’s natural clock and limit natural production of melatonin, a chemical your body produces to help you sleep. Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed to help your body wind down.

4. Redesign the room

Studies have shown that even something as small as room color can affect the quality of your sleep. Painting your room blue will have a calming effect, although yellow can be nice, too. If you have extra clutter in your room, getting rid of it will reduce your stress.

5. Meditate

One of the best things we can do to rest our minds through the day, and especially at the end of a day, is meditate. Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation is a proven way to reduce daytime fatigue and depression, treat moderate sleep disturbances or just experience better overall sleep quality.

6. Monitor alcohol consumption

Many people have a little alcohol before they go to bed as a nightcap, but consuming alcohol before you fall asleep can actually disrupt your body’s internal clock and prevent you from getting quality rest. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so it might wake you up in the middle of the night.

7. Get the most out of technology

Technology can help you improve your sleep. One option is using an air purifier that will remove pollutants, allergens, indoor smoke, and mold, as well as cool the room and help your body maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature.

8. Keep a journal to record your thoughts

If stress, depressive thoughts or anxiety keeps you up, consider writing your thoughts in a bedside journal. Remind yourself that you will address each of them in the morning when you’re more well-rested.

9. Think about trying a new mattress

It’s common for couples to have different preferences regarding the softness of a bed or how exactly they like to sleep. After your loved one or partner passes, it’s important to focus on self-care and coping, and one way to do that is to get a mattress that is well-suited to your individual needs and helps you fall asleep more easily.

When grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s easy to let self-care and other important aspects of life fall on the wayside. However, taking care of yourself will help you cope. Your body will feel better and you’ll be able to move forward in life, all while cherishing memories of your loved one.

Thank you, Sara, for this article. Not only is it informative, it also reminds us to not neglect the things which we are so apt to, such as sleep. Caring for ourselves is supremely important especially after losing a loved one, when our world feels pulled out from under us. One of the reasons I started to write so much was that it provided a catharsis for me after the untimely and unexpected loss of my father. Not only have I experienced much of what Sara describes in this article, I’ve also watched my mother navigate these waters, too. Again, thank you, Sara. And, dear readers, I hope this has been a helpful post for you.