Up to 50% of the world has sleep disorders, and about 80% of people who suffer from PTSD have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.
There are many different causes of PTSD And Insomnia, but some of the most frequent sources of sleeplessness are:
- Interrupted and waking up frequently during the night, due to night terrors, nightmares and a variety of other reasons.
- Having difficulty falling back asleep once interrupted.
- Waking up earlier than intended.
- Even if sleep does occur, it’s often not restful; there may be a lot of movement, talking, yelling and kicking during sleep.
- Nightmares and hyperawareness of sounds are very common, as are thoughts or worries about the trauma and life in general.
- The effect of nightmares can lead people to sleep alone away from loved ones, if they’re in a relationship, which causes more worry, anxiety and often relationship problems.
- People with PTSD may also view going to sleep as a loss of control. Thus, they are afraid, because they are worrying about not sleeping as soon as they lay down.
- Because of a lack of sleep during the night, a person may sleep more during the day, leading to greater difficulties falling asleep at night.
These problems are important to address because poor sleep can lead to stress and mood problems and along with PTSD, possibly have further impact on physical and mental health.
Here are 20 Tips That Can Help You Get A Good Night’s Sleep:
- Avoid early bedtimes – there is a higher likelihood to wake up in the middle of sleep time or earlier than scheduled.
- Stick to a Schedule and try to avoid taking naps or sleeping during the day.
- Take a warm shower or bath before going to bed.
- Exercise during the day or at least take a short walk.
- Keep a journal and write all your thoughts on paper.
- Pay attention to our eating and drinking habits, and avoid eating heavy meals before going to bed.
- But…Do not go to bed hungry.
- Drink warm liquids – caffeine-free tea or milk.
- Some nutritionists believe the following foods promote sleep: almonds, turkey, kiwi, tart cherry juice, fatty fish, walnuts, white rice, bananas, oatmeal, cottage cheese, dark chocolate.
- Make your bedroom the temperature that helps you sleep best.
- Try to cut back on sugar, carbs, caffeine and nicotine intake, particularly close to bedtime.
- Avoid liquids close to going to sleep, if you’re someone who is nervous or has anxiety. This can cause frequent trips to the bathroom and interrupt relaxation and sleep.
- Keep mealtime in the kitchen.
- Try not to watch too much television in the bedroom – the noise and flickering light can disturb sleep.
- Use a fan, white noise machine, earplugs, or an eye mask to help block out any distracting noises or light.
- Stay away from electronics and social media at least 30 minutes prior to sleep.
- Practice relaxation exercises before bed to release muscle tension and slow down your breathing – close your eyes and try to imagine a place that feels calming to you, whether it be a place by an ocean, at the top of a mountain looking at the stars, in a room where you have complete control and nothing can harm you – or perhaps in a fenced in area by the ocean and there are trusting people guarding you from harm…and (breathe in for 4, hold your breath for 4 and bring out for 4. This may help relax you and slow your heart rate.
- Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids, especially long-term use. They can cause long-term health problems in your heart, kidney and liver, as can self-medicating. It’s best to talk to a doctor about the use of any medication, OTC or other
- Alcohol and self-medication are definitely a sleep hinderance.
- Work at filling your life during the day: volunteer, take a class, join a support group. Isolation creates higher anxiety and compounds insomnia.
And, consider finding a therapist to discuss your sleep issues.
Below are some sleep, PTSD and mental health organizations that may be able to help you get some proper sleep:
National Sleep Foundation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
A list of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Organizations
American Psychiatric Association