Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to Make It Through the Night

Often those of us who are grieving, pretend during the daytime that our loved one is simply away or working; special occasions make that harder to do. But the nighttime can often be the loneliest time – the loneliness for them can descends like a shroud and there is no escape – e wonder how we can get to sleep more easily and how do we handle those long hours in the middle of the night when we wake and can’t get back to sleep?

Over time, lack of sleep or fitful sleeping can take a toll on physical well-being. Author Marta Felber knows from personal experience that nights can be long and sleepless following the death of a loved one. Here Marta shares what she did to sleep better and stay healthy after her husband’s death. How do you cope with grief and insomnia? These are some ideas for getting to sleep and surviving the long nights ~ By Marta Felber

STICK TO A REGULAR SCHEDULE. Have a set time to go to bed, a radio alarm to wake you at the same time every morning. Get up, regardless of how little sleep you have had. Maybe take an early afternoon nap, not longer than 30 minutes; set the timer.

GET REGULAR EXERCISE EVERYDAY, but not within 3 hours of going to bed. Exercise relieves stress and may help you relax and fall asleep.

AVOID CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL. Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep patterns. In addition to regular coffee, there are measurable amounts of caffeine in chocolate, some soft drinks and non-herbal tea. Alcohol also disturbs sleep patterns.

EAT LIGHT AT THE EVENING MEAL. Have a carbohydrate snack about an hour before bedtime. Also try a glass of milk.

AVOID SLEEPING PILLS. It is too easy to become dependent and too difficult to get off them.

GET SUNLIGHT IN THE AFTERNOON. It helps your body’s natural clock let you sleep at night.

CREATE A SLEEP-PRODUCING ATMOSPHERE. Low lighting, soothing music, a tepid bath, deep breathing, visualization of a beautiful setting, relaxation of body muscles or inspirational reading. Develop a nightly ritual of the things that work for you.

BESIDE YOUR BED, for those long wakeful hours, put dull reading material, a journal to record your feelings or dreams, note cards, a note pad for “to do” lists, a manicure set and a radio for late night talk shows and music.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS, go to the kitchen and make hot chocolate, adding marshmallows. Sip slowly, listen to the night sounds, look for the moon, the stars. Remember that nighttime is a good time for crying, and crying is healing.

You only need to get through one night at a time. You can do this. When you wake during the night, you will determine if you need to cry, get busy, prepare food or just feel God’s presence and a place of peace. Morning will come.

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