How to Cope with Grief and Sleep Alone

Nothing will ease your grief—at least, not for a while. But these tips will help you sleep, and sleep will help you heal.

By Ellen Michaud with Julie Bain from Sleep to Be Sexy Smart and Slim


  • 1.


    Limit writing to 15 minutes a day, and just write about how you feel. Periodically read back through what you’ve written. Over time you’ll be able to see how you’ve moved through the grieving process. Somewhere around 80 percent of us will move through the worst of our grief within a year.

  • 2.


    Pay attention to your body’s needs. Prepare balanced meals, and serve them on your best china and linens. Exercise for 30 minutes every day, even if it’s just a walk with the dog. And every morning center yourself in a prayer of gratitude for the people in your life, the sunshine outside your window, and the fact that you can make a difference in the lives of others.

  • 3.


    Check with your attorney and a financial consultant about the effects a death has on your legal and financial situation. No, you don’t want to deal with it. On the other hand, you’ll sleep better knowing exactly what will—or won’t—be coming at you in the months ahead.

  • 4.


    “Mind/body stuff really works in helping you get to sleep,” says therapist Belleruth Naparstek, M.S. “The imagery has enough cognitive recruitment to seduce the brain into seeing and thinking about other things, while the voice tone, pacing, music, and images will persuade your parasympathetic nervous system that it’s time to calm down. It will shut down the adrenaline and shoot some calming hormones into your nervous system.”   Slip a CD of guided imagery into your CD player, snuggle into bed, turn out the lights, and follow the imagery into sleep.

  • 5.


    Alcohol simply prolongs the grieving process and makes it harder to get good, restorative sleep.

  • 6.


    “Massage interrupts the neurohormones connected with sleeplessness and almost manually imposes sleep on you,” says Naparstek. “If you can’t afford a massage, go to a massage school. You can get one there for $15.”

  • 7.


    “For some people six months of Ambien is a good thing,” says Naparstek. “If you need to take medication to interrupt the adrenalization of your life, so be it.”

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