Tag Archives: fall asleep

Grandma Died . . . I Can’t Sleep

Sadly, my special grandma died Friday night. I will miss her, and remember all the great times we had, and the things she taught me over the years.

Having learned on Saturday morning about her passing, it was on my mind as I settled in to sleep Saturday night. My thoughts were on Grandma, flitting from one memory to another, I was upset. So it took a long time to fall asleep, then I was in and out of sleep through the night, disturbed by the high winds, thinking about the next days’ activities, and even wondering what time it was, if it was time to get up.

This was acute insomnia, which is really typical when people have some type of life-event. Fortunately, I have a long history of robust sleep, so this one night won’t throw me off. On the other hand, for people who have recovered from chronic insomnia, even an understandable acute insomnia in response to an identified stressor can bring up worries about their sleep. That worry about sleep makes sleep more elusive, and can trigger another episode of chronic insomnia.

So what to do? First of all, if an identifiable life-event has happened, keep in mind that it is normal for sleep to be disturbed as we are processing our emotions. As best you can, take time each day to sit and reflect on your experience, allow your emotions to come up, and express them either to a friend, by journaling, or other way. Do this during the day, at least 2 hours before bed, and then in the night tell yourself “I’ll have time to think about this more tomorrow, now is time to rest.” Second of all, don’t begin to worry about your sleep, knowing that as you recover from the event, your sleep will improve. During this emotional time, keep in place all those healthy sleep habits mentioned in other posts – regular bedtime and wake routine, getting out of bed if awake long in the night, saving the bed just for sleep, regular exercise, etc.

Use these strategies. If a time comes that you are no longer feeling emotionally charged about the event, but your sleep is still disturbed, then it is time to get sleep help.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Sleep

Many people in my sleep clinic report lying in bed unable to sleep, having insomnia. This happens either at the beginning or middle of the night. For people who are thinking a lot, the Gratitude Meditation from last week can be helpful.

Another technique to help you fall asleep is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. I recommend this for the people who report tossing and turning in bed. The benefit of Progressive Muscle Relaxation is that it both occupies the mind and relaxes the body. Below are the instructions, you can use this natural technique whatever time you are awake in bed.

  1. Starting with your toes, tighten a muscle group for a count of 8, then relax it fully, allowing those muscles to feel heavy and sink into the bed.
  2. Focus your mind on clenching your muscles and slowly counting. Gently turn away other thoughts.
  3. Next, slowly move up to the next muscle group, your calves. Repeat.
  4. Continue moving up your body through legs, abdomen, bottom, hands, arms, back, jaw, face.
  5. Be sure to continue breathing regularly during this practice.

People regularly find that they are asleep before they complete the entire sequence.