General HealthSleep WellbeingUnderstanding Grief and How if Affects Sleep - Sleep Hive

September 16, 2021by Alyssa Villamil0

The death of a loved one alters your lifestyle for the rest of your life. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as moving on or getting over it. So, when it comes to sleep deprivation and grief, let’s put it to rest right now. Grief is a painful process that comes with a slew of physical, mental, and emotional side effects.

Grief affects everyone differently, and it usually depends on your relationship with the person who has died. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to grieving, but knowing and understanding the circumstances of your loss may help you choose a way on how to healing that is appropriate for you.


Grief is often described in stages. As described by Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the five general stages of grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Though each stage may last a varied amount of time for various people – some may experience the phases for a shorter or longer period of time than others, and some may not experience all of them. There is no such thing as a typical loss or grief, therefore the stages aren’t designed to neatly package grief. Grieving is as unique as we are, and it is not a predictable process.

However, acknowledging that you may experience some of all of these stages may help you understand what may be happening and what you can do to help yourself.

Complicated Grief Syndrome – Grief is thought to subside after the first six months after a traumatic event. People who continue to grieve after the 6-month mark may be suffering with Complicated Grief, which might need professional help to alleviate symptoms. Complicated grieving differs from mental illnesses such as sadness and anxiety, although it can often coexist with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Sleep deprivation, or a lack thereof, is a frequent grieving issue. People with more grieving symptoms are more likely to take longer to fall asleep, wake up for longer lengths of time after falling asleep, and spend more time in bed awake rather than sleeping.

Although losing sleep is a common occurrence for everyone, especially during times of extreme stress or grief, it does not negate the negative effects it can have on the body. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and anxiety.

Thoughts of loss fill one’s mind during grief, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Grieving people frequently wake up from dreams involving a deceased loved one as their brain processes the loss. The problem for those who are grieving is that they will get sleep deprived as a result of their lack of sleep.


Sleep deprivation only intensifies the symptoms of grieving, making day-to-day life even more challenging to manage.

Obviously, sleep is a very important aspect of life and dealing with loss. In order to sleep better after your loss, follow these tips:

Avoid Alcohol and Sleeping Pills
To self-treat chronic insomnia, some may turn to sleep aids such as sleeping pills or alcohol. While drinking may make you "pass out," you will not be obtaining the restorative sleep you need. Doctors do not encourage this, and it could be harmful because it could lead to addiction and worse sleep deprivation.
It's difficult to overestimate the benefits of exercise in general, let alone when dealing with grief. Exercise may be a good technique to naturally get sleep and relaxation in the body. It improves everyone's sleep habits while also promoting a healthy immune system. Exercise can be a great coping therapy for those who are grieving.
Rearrange your Bedroom
The emptiness on the other side of the bed, unfortunately, can trigger painful memories and tough emotions for those who have lost a co-sleeper. To relieve some of the symptoms, consider changing the room, moving the bed, or purchasing new bedding. A new set of mattress and bed frame may help you ease your grief.
Journaling can help you connect with your deep-seated thoughts, memories, and emotions. It is easier to get to it if you write it down and then read it again. Returning to past writings is often the greatest therapeutic benefit of journaling.
Join Support Groups
Many bereaved people question if joining a support group might be beneficial. Having your friends talk with you about your grief may be good but they might not be able to understand the full extent of what you’re going through. Support groups are a tried-and-true source of assistance for people dealing with a variety of issues. However, groups are not magical; there are no words that can make grief vanish when spoken in a group context.

While you deal with sleep deprivation and grief, know that everything you’re going through is normal. Grief is frequently accompanied with sleep problems; but it doesn’t have to stay this way indefinitely.

It takes time to grieve, but there are people who can help you. You can connect with the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement if you need some help or consult with your doctor if your grief symptoms are becoming stronger and interfering with your sleep.

Working through grief is an important aspect of life, even if it is a long process. It will be simpler to honor your loved one’s life and perhaps create a memorial for them if you have resumed normal sleeping patterns. if you’re interested in speaking with our Therapeutic Sleep Advisors, you can schedule an in-home consultation below.

Alyssa Villamil

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