Grief Expert Releases 5 Tools to Help the Grieving Sleep

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Edy Nathan MA, LCSW, a grief expert, gives 5 ways to get into the habit of good sleep while grieving. Nathan introduces the STOP tool kit that has helped many find ways to get peaceful and meaningful sleep.

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When you set up a ritual for sleep, the body and mind begin to get into the groove of that ritual. The brains neuroplasticity will learn the new habit.

Sleep. When its consistent and good there is nothing like it. Unfortunately, all too often, the lack of it is caused by grief and trauma. The combination creates a disaster in the mind and the body and the soul as the distress is embedded in mental health, libido, appetite and daily functioning. The cycle of moving in and out of REM sleep cannot happen when the prerogative to rest for eight hours is ignored. In a culture where power and money coerce and tantalize people to ignore self-care, the current results in low self-worth, agitation, undue stress and a sense of loss. Edy Nathan MA, LCSW, a grief and trauma therapist, has worked to help people find ways to get peaceful and meaningful sleep while they cope with their issues.

In her book, “The Sleep Revolution”, Arianna Huffington uses her own life to illustrate the pitfalls that occur when the need for sleep is disregarded. She offers meditations and exercises that support healthy sleep. This book exemplifies the importance that sleep has on mental health. As a clinician it is often hard to discriminate how lack of sleep contributes to and interferes with those in the throes of a grief reaction.

Here are 5 quick tools to help get into the habit of good sleep when grief and trauma are present. Nathan introduces the STOP tool kit: “ It is easy to remember the word STOP. The acronym stands for "Settle Down, Time for You, Opt Out and Get to No and Pay Attention and be Proactive”.

1.    Set a time in the day to slow down and stop. Turn off devices at a specific time. Honor that time.
2.    “Time for you” means just that. Listen to music, write in a journal and let the energy of the day dissipate. Become aware of how breath moves in and out of the body. Have a conversation with a friend or partner. Business is off limits. The mind is settling down now.
3.    Opt out and get to NO. It is often hard to say no to the invitations and late nights out. Setting boundaries for the self, though difficult at first, is a first defender for good sleep.
4.    Pay attention and be proactive. “When you set up a ritual for sleep, the body and mind begin to get into the groove of that ritual. The brains neuroplasticity will learn the new habit.”
5.    It is hard to concentrate when grieving or bearing the impact of trauma. Instead of deliberating on sleep, try this: Lay down in bed, eyes are closed. Breathe in and out slowly, like a sleep breath. Look up, with closed eyes, for a count of 15. Look down, with eyes closed for a count of 15, look side to side, with eyes closed for a count of 15. Do this 3 times. Nathan suggests “The more you engage with this sleep exercise, the easier it will become. Many clients find that after one pass of the entire exercise, they have already fallen to sleep.”

Sleep is a healing element for all people and especially for anyone coping with grief and trauma. Use STOP to create the necessary rituals that will welcome an unencumbered slumber.

About Edy Nathan:
Edy Nathan is a licensed psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience specializing in grief. For two seasons, she was the therapist on the A&E TV Show, “Psychic Kids." She holds Masters from both New York University and Fordham University. She has post-graduate training from the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy, The Gestalt Center and the Jungian Institute. She is a certified EMDR practitioner, regression therapist, certified hypnotherapist, relationship and grief expert. To find out more, visit EdyNathan.com.

For a complimentary meditation and more information about other topics related to grief, loss and trauma, please visit here.

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