I went to work the other day, and several people asked me if I’d been on holiday or gone to a spa – as I looked refreshed. It was a feeling that I remembered but it felt new and exciting, I had energy, I felt like myself and all it took was one good night’s sleep. The last good nights sleep I had was about 6 months ago. Grief plays havoc with your sleep cycle. After my husband died not only couldn’t I sleep, I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t fear nightmares as I’d stopped dreaming, it was more that everything, too much had changed and that was scary enough. I didn’t know what was next. I wasn’t living in the home I had with my husband, I’d moved several times since he passed. My husband liked us going to bed at the same time – he said his parents went to bed and the sometime. My parents didn’t, my dad rises early and my mum’s a night owl. So we compromised. We’d go to bed at the same time, my husband would fall asleep quickly and I’d read in bed for an hour or so. Now I have no routine and the old routine was, well gone. Routine is the key for sleeping well and winding down is a critical stage in preparing for a good nights sleep.
We’ve heard these suggestions may times and what you need changes over time. I’ve read so many tips about sleeping and there are some basic ones to adhere to but then you just need to figure out what works for you.
Basic Sleeping Advice
- Create a habit. Go to bed at the same time.
- Pay attention to what you eat – don’t eat too late, don’t eat too much and make sure you drink enough water during the day.
- Create Your Own Bedtime Ritual
Creating your own bed time ritual, this is the part that’s unique to you and it will change as your needs change. I used to listen to meditations while falling asleep. I needed another voice in my head, to make me feel calm & relaxed. While getting ready for bed I now light candles and use an oil diffuser to wind down. Some people suggest sleeping with something warm, such as a pet, a heating pad or hot water bottle. I haven’t tried this but I’ve been thinking of getting a small dog…
If your partner died in your bed there is no easier answer. My husband did and I never slept in our bed again or lived in our flat again – I couldn’t. It’s hard to figure out what you need to do and it’s all trial and error, and you have to keep trying and figure out what works for you. It’s your life. I recently bought new bedding that had made me feel better. Some people suggest sleeping on your partners side of the bed. I never thought to do this but I kept my husband’s pillow. For a long time I still slept on ‘my side of the bed’ and without being aware of it I moved into the middle.
I often wake up at 2am or 3am I don’t get stressed when I wake up or can’t sleep. I often just get up, read or do some work and then eventually go back to sleep. So often I wake up tired in the morning, but I don’t get angry with myself for being tired. The most important thing for me was to give myself permission to be on auto pilot and function at less then 50%. I didn’t want to be angry at myself for grieving and the toll it was taking on me. I still don’t like going to bed, I think I fight having a ritual and winding down, it’s still a new routine that I didn’t choose, but I need to make the most out of this life. I don’t want to sleepwalk my way through it.
photo from The White Company I love there bedding and their Vereine diffuser.