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Sleep & Grief - Dealing with Grief-Induced Insomnia

Sleep & Grief - Dealing with Grief-Induced Insomnia

About 4 lakh + people have died in the last 16 months since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Even otherwise, 60 million people die worldwide every day. And for each deceased soul, an average of five close friends and family members are left behind to grieve. To safely sum it up, grieving is a universal experience, and each person processes loss in their unique way. However, a slight to a severe change in sleeping patterns, often leading to insomnia or serious sleep deprivation is a very common issue among most grievers.

As per studies, people who are grieving are more likely to experience issues falling asleep. The problems can range from falling asleep late to waking up at regular intervals after sleeping and even spending a significant portion of time lying down, awake on their beds instead of sleeping. They can face difficulty going back to sleep once they wake up in the middle of the night. If they manage to fall asleep, they end up dreaming about the deceased and have trouble sleeping through the night. Now, lack of proper sleep is not a diagnostic feature of complicated grief, but it may add to the risk.  

Sleep and grief share a bidirectional relationship. And to be able to deal with the grief and move on, no matter how long it takes, good sleep must be prioritized. Why? An increasing number of studies suggest grief not only disrupts sleep, but poor sleep can make the grieving process harder. Aside from that, not receiving at least 7 hours of sleep frequently can increase the likelihood of diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, or anxiety.

What Should You Do? 

  • First of all, manage your grief on your terms. 
  • Create a support system. Seek help from friends and family. Go for counselling sessions or visit support groups. 
  • Remember that healing is a process and setbacks are a part of it. 
  • Make sleep a priority. Ensure 7-8 hours of good quality sleep. 

Relearning How to Sleep After Losing Your Loved Ones

  • Don’t rely on naps, alcohol and sleeping pills: Most of us resort to these alternatives to ensure sleep, but getting sleep via these options lead to further sleeping problems. For instance, we all know alcohol helps you ‘pass out’ but it won’t get you the restorative sleep you need. 
  • Get, Sweat, Go! Exercising not just helps you burn the carbs you don’t need, it also helps naturally induce sleep. 
  • Start a Journal: Writing or communicating how you feel, be it to your diary or to people you know, often helps release the pent up grief, finally enabling you to fall asleep. 
  • Reorganize your bedroom: If the person you are grieving for is your spouse or someone you were in a relationship with i.e a co-sleeper, moving the bed or purchasing new bedding could alleviate some of the symptoms.
  • Seek professional help: While we are sure some of these tips can help, we are not experts. Thus, we strongly recommend seeking professional help if dealing with grief by yourself gets tougher for you. 

In the end, all we ask you is to take care, sleep well, and stay healthy.