Sleep is incredibly important to our health, and yet, many people with PTSD struggle to get enough restful, restorative sleep. This can be extremely difficult, as poor sleep can worsen symptoms of PTSD, leading to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and emotional distress. The good news is, there are strategies you can use to help improve the quality of your sleep when living with PTSD. In this blog, we’ll explore the impact of PTSD on sleep and provide tips and strategies for getting more restful sleep.
It’s important to understand that PTSD can have a major impact on sleep. People living with PTSD may experience insomnia, nightmares, and night terrors, which can all contribute to poor sleep quality. Additionally, PTSD can cause anxiety and depression, both of which can further interfere with sleep. It’s also important to note that the symptoms of PTSD can vary over time; when symptoms worsen, it’s likely that sleep quality will also suffer.
The good news is, there are strategies you can use to help improve your sleep with PTSD. Here are a few tips THAT THE EXPERT RECOMMEND FOR GOOD “SLEEP HYGIENE.” NONE OF THEM ARE MAGIC BULLETS, BUT TAKEN TOGETHER, OVER TIME, THEY CAN HELP YOU GET THE REST YOU NEED AND HELP YOU TO ‘DIAL DOWN’ YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM’S STATE OF ALERT:
• Develop a consistent sleep routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help your body get used to a regular sleep schedule. iT IS SO HARD. I KNOW. MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS AFTER MY NEAR-FATAL ACCIDENT, I STILL STRUGGLE WITH SLEEP. BUT TRYING AS BEST I CAN TO KEEP A REGULAR SCHEDULE REALLY DOES HELP.
• Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and anxiety and make it easier to fall asleep. THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT APPS OUT THERE, INCLUDING LOTS OF FREE ONES. I HAVE A HUGE COLLECTION ON MY PHONE. DEPENDING ON MY MOOD, I MIGHT CHOOSE A BODY SCAN MEDITATION, AN INSOMNIA-SPECIFIC MEDITATION, NATURE NOISE, OR JUST A GOOD SLEEP STORY. THEY ALL HELP KEEP MY MIND FROM REPLAYING OVER AND OVER THE STRESSFUL PARTS OF MY DAY.
• Avoid CHEMICAL IMPEDIMENTS TO SLEEP. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and certain medications can make it harder to fall (AND STAY) asleep, so try to avoid them in the evening. WHEN YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM HAS TROUBLE SHUTTING DOWN AND LETTING YOU TRULY RELAX, THE ALLURE OF ALCOHOL, THC OR OTHER DRUGS IS STRONG. THEY MAY HELP IN THE MOMENT BUT ALWAYS COME BACK TO BITE YOU IN THE FORM OF LOW-QUALITY SLEEP. WORK WITH YOUR BODY, NOT AGAINST IT.
• Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality - ESPECIALLY OUTDOOR EXERCISE IN THE SUN. MAKE SURE YOUR BODY EXPERIENCES DAYLIGHT - AND THEN KNOWS WHEN IT IS NIGHTTIME. LIGHT HAS A TREMENDOUS EFFECT ON OUR NORMAL CIRCADIAN RHYTHM.
• Talk to your doctor. If you’re having trouble sleeping - ESPECIALLY IF IT IS ON A REGULAR BASIS OR FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD - speak to your doctor about treatment options. iF THEY OFFER ONLY USELESS PLATITUDES, FIND A SPECIALIST. HE OR SHE may suggest medications or therapies that can help. SOME OF THESE MEDS CAN BE HABIT-FORMING SO IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE CAREFUL, BUT DON’T FORGET THAT CHRONIC SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS A MAJOR HEALTH RISK AS WELL. INSIST ON UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS.
Finally, it’s important to remember that YOUR DESERVE AND YOU NEED A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP. PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH DEPEND ON IT. SLEEP ISN’T AN INDULGENCE OR SOMETHING YOU CAN NEGLECT LONG TERM. Taking ACTOIVE steps to improve your sleep can help you manage your PTSD symptoms and live a more fulfilling life.