A guest post by Sara Bailey of thewidow.net.
I’ve struggled with insomnia and sleep issues since the hubs died, and can personally relate to everything Sara says here. Self-care is critically important, and lack of sleep impacts more than just our cognitive processing. I hope you find her tips as helpful as I did.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
Welcome Sleep Back Into Your Life After A Loss
Insomnia is a common problem for those who’ve lost a spouse as they toss and turn throughout the night, grappling with intense emotions of anger, grief, and fear. Moreover, that lack of sleep can lead to more serious health problems, such as a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of diabetes.
It’s time to put an end to this with self-care. Practicing good self-care means focusing on your well-being through eating well, exercising, and finding ways to relax before bed. Here’s a closer look at what you need to do.
Address Your Diet
There are a number of foods to avoid, particularly chocolate or anything else with too much caffeine or sugar, which should never be eaten in the evening or late afternoon. The same goes for items high in fat, such as burgers and pizza, which could cause indigestion. Instead, have a dinner rich in vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
Get More Exercise
Physical activity relieves stress while raising your body temperature. When it drops back down, that signals to your mind that it’s time to relax so you remain calm throughout the day and into the later hours. How you break a sweat depends on what you enjoy; for example, you could go for an early morning run or take a spinning class in the evening. Here’s the important part: The more you enjoy the activity, the more you’re likely to repeat it.
Form a Routine
This is crucial for ensuring you get to enough quality sleep regularly rather than slipping back into unhealthy patterns after a few days. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it, even on the weekends, so your body maintains a healthy circadian rhythm. To help things along, schedule relaxing activities in the evening to make sure you’re drowsy when the lights go out.
Take an Evening Shower
A nice shower is definitely one thing you should add to that evening schedule. Dowsing your body with warm water has a similar effect as exercising: Your body heats up and then cools down again, slowing your heartbeat and breathing rate, explains a writer with Lifehacker. This tells your body it’s time for sleep.
Drink an Infusion
However, going to bed right after a hot shower isn’t a great idea. As mentioned, your body needs at least 90 minutes to cool down, so use that time to drink an herbal infusion. Chamomile, Linden, or rosemary will delight your taste buds while also soothing your mind.
Pick Up a Book
According to a scientist speaking with Elite Daily, it takes only six minutes of reading for significant relaxation, thus preparing you for a night of restful slumber. It’s a major antidote to stress and a wonderful addition to the evening routine you’re crafting.
Now to address what you shouldn’t do in the evening. Besides the aforementioned caffeine and sugar, say “no” to digital devices such as your smartphone and laptop. They emit a constant stream of blue light that mimics the effects of the sun when you’re supposed to be dozing off. Besides, you’ve got a good book to read anyway.
Change Your Mattress
The mattress you’re sleeping on may be a little too old or does not match your sleeping position. There are four basic types: innerspring, memory foam, latex, and airbed. If you lie on your side to fall asleep, then memory foam would be the best, whereas innerspring and airbed serve better for stomach sleepers. Find what works best for you.
Explore Different Sleep Technologies
If you’re going to change the mattress, go one step further and look into gadgets that could help you successfully drift off to sleep. Stay away from products whose claim to fame isn’t backed by sound scientific research. What might work is an alarm clock that also emits sleep-inducing light and sound to send you off to dreamland.
Hopefully, these tips should have you dozing off soon enough so you can avoid the worst consequences of insomnia and get back some of that youthful energy you need to forge ahead. Good luck — and sweet dreams.