Grief Education

Sleep Disturbances and Grief

Ashley Waite

Oftentimes, sleep disturbances and grief go hand-in-hand. While insomnia is a common reaction to grief, it should be mindfully tended too. When an individual experiences sleep disturbances, “every type of tissue and system in the body – from the brain, heart, and lungs to metabolism, immune function, mood, and disease resistance” can be affected.

If you find yourself experiencing sleep disturbances, consider journaling before bed and implementing the following tools to boost your circadian rhythm:

1.) In the morning as soon as you wake up and before doing anything else, step outside in the sunshine for 15 minutes

2.) Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.

3.) No food after 7 p.m.

4.) Use your bedroom only for intimacy and sleep

5.) After 8 p.m., dim your lights, turn off all electronics, and take a magnesium or Epsom salt bath.

While hacking your circadian rhythm is an important element of sleep hygiene, additional factors may be contributing to poor sleep. Examples of this include blood sugar and hormonal imbalances, toxic exposures, lack of movement, mental health stimulants, long-term stress, and your sleep environment.

Analyzing sleep through a “root cause” approach can help you obtain important insights to support sleep. If you feel like you would benefit from extra support, please consider working with a functional medicine practitioner to see if supplements or additional testing would be an appropriate next step in your journey.

If you'd like to learn more, watch the video below.

Source: “Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

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