Grief and Sleep, Part II October 1, 2019 / Reid M. Jacobs, APHSW-C, MSW
Previously, we discussed the ways that grief can interfere with sleep, as well as the importance of sleep hygiene and medications that help with sleep. Now, I’d like to provide information on non-medication techniques to help you sleep. You may be surprised to learn that there are many ways to help with sleep beyond medications. Many of these fall under the umbrella of mindfulness. Among these are guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga nidra.
Guided imagery focuses on getting the mind to think about something relaxing and not about the inability to sleep. Those thoughts can even contribute to and worsen insomnia. There are many guided imagery techniques, but they generally involve guiding a person’s mind and imagination to facilitate a relaxed state. This may be done in person or via recording.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) focuses on contracting and relaxing specific muscle groups throughout the body, typically starting with the head and moving down the body to the feet and toes. This process helps to physically relax the body, getting it ready for sleep. It also gets the mind’s focus off of the inability to sleep.
Yoga nidra combines aspects of both guided imagery and PMR with the additional focus on breathing. Yoga nidra does not require contorting into odd poses, nor do you need a yoga mat or bricks. Instead, you find a relaxing position sitting or lying down. The person leading the session guides the participant in simple breathing exercises, as well as some guided imagery and muscle relaxation. Again, these sessions can be done in person or via recording.
I recommend recordings that are available via audio CD and audio downloads. These can be used whenever you need help getting to sleep.
There are many resources available by searching Amazon, Barnes & Noble, YouTube, and your smartphone’s app store. Some of these resources are free, but I urge my clients to look for recordings made by trained, licensed professionals. Here are a few of my top recommendations: