Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Tips for Widows & Sleep (or lack of sleep!)

Almost every widow I know has struggled with sleeping, especially during the first year. It's either too hard to relax and fall asleep, or we wake up too early, or both!

Here are some tips for a good nights sleep:
1) Pay attention to your bedtime routine and what works/doesn't work for you.
  • Is the bedroom itself the culprit? Some widows cannot sleep in the same bed and/or the same room anymore. But sleeping on the living room sofa probably isn't the solution. It's okay to change to a new room, try a different bed. Redecorating your room with new bedding, a different color paint, or new curtains might help too.
  • Maybe the light on the alarm clock is too bright or the house is too quiet without your husband snoring next to you. Use a fan or a sound machine with some "white noise" so it's not so quiet.
  • Or maybe the cat keeps waking you up--before you go to bed make sure she has a food in her dish for the night.
  • There's also your body temperature--do you need a warm bath before bedtime? an electric blanket? or do you like cool sheets?
  • Any one of  these crazy little details could be the problem! Don't feel guilty that you're losing sleep over it. Be nice to yourself and try a change for the better.
‎2) As soon as you lay your head on the pillow does your mind start a movie reel of the day? If you're not alseep in 15 minutes, turn the light back on and try these tips:
  • Grab the Bible on your nightstand and start reading or memorizing verses.
  • Pray out loud about everything you can possibly think of.
  • If you're worried about taxes or meeting with the lawyer, go ahead and work on the papers.
  • Or try Soduku or a crossword puzzle. The mental concentration can distract you from worries that keep you awake.
3) Be mindful of what you've eaten.
  • That hot cup of coffee and melty chocolate dessert after dinner will not help you get a good nights sleep. Steer clear of caffiene and sugars.
  • Eat a banana or a turkey sandwich; drink a small glass of milk or a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed--a little food in your tummy can help, but these particular foods really help! 
4) Have you always had trouble sleeping, or is this definitely your body's response to the stress and trauma. A lot of times its just life in general.
  • Make sure you get enough physical exercise during the day --this will help with everything
  • DO NOT NAP DURING THE DAY OR SLEEP IN! That really messes up your body clock.
  • Pick a good time to go to bed and do it.
  • Get up at the same time every morning whether you slept or not.
6) If after a few weeks or months of trying these tips--- sooner if you feel your sleep deprivation is a danger to society or a hindrance to your job--- talk to your doctor and take a non-addictive prescription sleep aid. It might be just the thing to give a kick start to your sleeping routine and you won't need to use it very long. Don't use over-the-counter sleeping pills.

7) Don't worry about it. We're all different. I get about 6 hours of sleep a night, often less. After years of lying awake worrying that I wasn't getting "the recommended" 8 hours, I just wing it. Sleep is highly over-rated for some of us!

What tips would you add for getting a good night's sleep?


  1. This is very good advice!! I don't recall sleeping much the first year..

    ummm....Is there anyway we can work out a compramise with the chocolate? Can I at least dip my banana in melted chocolate...what about warm chocolate milk? :)

  2. Lol, Cathy! I think if you add enough whipped cream to float in your mug of hot chocolate, or enough ice cream with the chocolate sauce on the banana---yea, they're from milk, right? ;-)Buts it's gotta be enough to counteract the chocolate, and calls for a lot of experimentation. I should get started.


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