Wake Back to Bed: An Evening Ritual to Reclaim Sleep When Grief Disrupts Your Zzz’s

Wake Back to Bed: An Evening Ritual to Reclaim Sleep When Grief Disrupts Your Zzz’s
Photo by Rakha Pratama / Unsplash

You finally managed to fall asleep at midnight, but then 2 hours later, you find yourself wide awake staring at the ceiling.  You might not wake up at the same time every night, but it happens nearly every night. When you are grieving, you are more likely to have trouble going back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night.

If you get up in the middle of the night, use this ritual/practice to help you go back to sleep.

Wake Back to Bed Ritual

When You Wake Up

If you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, try some of the following things below:

  • Don’t turn the lights on
  • Put on some soothing music or sounds
  • Listen to a calm story

If you cannot fall back asleep within about 20 minutes, don’t stay in bed because this might cause you even more anxiety and keep you awake. Instead, try the ritual below.

Total Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Ritual Intention: For the intention, we will use something called “paradoxical intention. Say to yourself, “I am ok staying awake and not being able to sleep”. This is a simple practice in which you take a non-violent approach, and instead of trying to force or will yourself to go back to sleep, you repeat this intention a few times to invite a sense of serenity and acceptance of your current situation.

  • Get out of bed: If you’re wide awake, get out of bed and go into a different room and do something relaxing to distract your mind for about 20 minutes
  • Intention: Say your intention out loud to yourself .“I am ok staying awake and not being able to sleep”.

Perform a calming activity: Choose any of the activities below to distract yourself

Go back To Bed: After about 20 minutes, go back to bed and use either of the practices below to help you fall asleep

  • Breathwork: Slowly and steadily, count down your breaths from any number. For example, if you count down from 10 to 1, start with an inhale, count 10, out 9, in 8, out 7.
  • Bedtime Stories: Listen to a bedtime story from the “Nothing Much Happen Podcast” or Insight Timer App
  • Mediation: Listen to this meditation for sleep that centers you in your heart space
  • Poetry: Listen to Mary Oliver's poems in this podcast episode
  • Audiobook: Listen to an audiobook of your choice. The Power of Now always puts me to sleep!
  • Sleep Music: Put on some sleep music, ASMR, or white noise to help you fall asleep. Check out this article for more sleep music options or download a sleep app like Calm or Insight Timer
  • Dodow Machine:  This is a sleep aid that puts a dot on the ceiling that expands, and contracts and you match your breathing to it. You can choose an 8 or 20 cycle
  • Listen to this 10-minute body scan meditation where you mentally scan your body from your toes to your head at a steady pace.

Here are some other evening rituals you can use if you struggle to fall asleep because of anxiety, emotional overwhelm, or an overactive mind. You can also use this ritual if you struggle with nightmares, or learn how to create your own.

In addition, check out this article for additional sleep resources and aids.

May your sleep be restful and healing.