In this post I shared the importance of self-care when grieving, why it’s so hard and a few ways to make it a bit easier. Today I wanted to talk specifically about the self-care practice I found to be the most difficult and seemingly elusive: sleep. Amidst grief, sleeping well can feel impossible. In the months following my son’s death I experienced first hand the inability to fall asleep, the lack of desire to sleep, the fear of sleep and the hellish nightmares that would plague me when I did finally go to sleep. I would often wake in a panic, unable to catch my breath with my heart beating out of my chest. It wasn’t until years later that a trained naturopath helped me understand the value of sleep and the everyday things I was unknowingly doing that was inhibiting healthy sleep patterns.
Lack of sleep can actually exacerbate grief by contributing to depression, irritability, anger, increased emotional reactivity or weakened immune system, just to name just a few.
for many the loss of sleep seems marginal and, when you’re dealing with more obvious and painful stressors, it’s easy to overlook the impact fatigue might have on your emotional outlook. Unfortunately, if you aren’t cognizant of the importance of a good night’s sleep, then you’re far less likely to see it as necessary in your grief. from Whats Your Grief
Not surprising, the benefits of healthy sleep patterns amidst grief can be one of the most healing practices you do. (And as a reminder, healing is not forgetting. I know that we can often be fearful of pursuing healthy healing patterns out of fear that we are “moving on” without our baby. I just want to acknowledge that you will never forget your baby. You will never “move on” to a place where you will not remember and love your baby.)
I’ve put together a few tips for sleeping peacefully including 8 Printable Bible Verses that speak directly to sleep; I pray that these tips are truly helpful in your healing process.
TIPS FOR PEACEFUL SLEEP WHEN GRIEVING
THINGS THAT ARE HELPFUL
- Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-time routine
- Create a bedtime routine that helps you relax like:
- Take a warm bath <– Actually promotes deep sleep
- Caffeine-free herbal tea <– Actually promotes healthy sleep
- Journal your thoughts before going to sleep
- Meditate on Bible Verses specifically about God’s care for you (see printable verse cards below!)
- Pray; if you’re married, ask your spouse to pray with you or for you before falling asleep
- Ensure your bed, bedding and pillows are comfortable — you may need to invest in new items if the current bedding, etc. are painful triggers for you
- Ensure your room is dark as even the smallest, seemingly insignificant light inhibits deep sleep
- Try utilizing white noise (this sound machine would work great or search for an app on your phone)
- Put your phone in another room while you sleep or at the very least, the furthest end of your room
- Diffuse essential oils: Bergamot oil and lavender oil, combined with sandalwood, frankincense and mandarin, create a useful sleep-inducing blend.
- Valerian Root via Tea or Capsule promotes relaxation and is a natural remedy for anxiety
- Magnesium can help decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you up at night. It also helps muscles relax. (Add this magnesium powder to a glass of water before bed or add epsom salts to your bath and your body will absorb the magnesium from the salt.)
THINGS TO AVOID
- Avoid caffeine: “Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, says Baron, meaning five hours after your last cup of coffee, half of its caffeine content is still in your system.” via Huffington Post
- Avoid alcohol: It may help you fall asleep but it will not help you stay asleep and will actually result in a more restless night’s sleep
- Avoid screen time (tv, phone, computer) for 1-2 hours before your bedtime: “Studies have shown that the blue light generated by electronic devices can delay the onset of sleep. (Here’s how spending just one extra minute on your phone before bed can rob you of 60 minutes of sleep.)” from Prevention.com
IF YOU WAKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
- Recite the Bible Verses (listed below)
- Journal: Write about what you were dreaming or what you were thinking when you first woke up; Ask God to heal all those hard places
- Do mental math: Count backwards from 300 by 3’s “It’s so mathematically complicated that you can’t think about anything else, and so boring that you fall asleep,” from Prevention.com
- Avoid reaching for your phone as it may hinder you falling back asleep
BIBLE VERSES FOR PEACEFUL SLEEP
Click here to download and print yours
- I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. Psalm 3:5
When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
In peace I will both lie down & sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
…for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2
Do you have any peaceful sleep tips?
If so, share them in the comments, we would love to hear them.
ADDITIONAL HELPFUL ARTICLES & RESOURCES
- Grief & Sleep
- Not So Good-Night, Why Grief Is Leaving You Sleep-Deprived
- Ideal Bedroom Guide for Sleep
- 13 All-Natural Ways to Fall Asleep Faster