Some individuals suffer from sleep problems after a traumatic experience. Sleep problems include;
- unable to fall asleep
- unable to stay asleep
- wake up in the early morning hours and then unable to go back to sleep.
Problems with sleep are one of the most common difficulties for people who experience traumatic events.
Some tips for helping with sleep problems include:
- Get into a routine. Get up the same time every day, regardless of when you fall asleep, even on the weekends.
- Only go to bed when you are ready to go to sleep. Don’t read, watch TV or do other activities when you are trying to tire yourself enough to sleep. Don’t stay in bed if you cannot sleep. Go into another room until you feel sleepy.
- Control your breathing as you settle into bed. Use a word like “calm” or “relax” as you breathe in and out to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Use imagery of a peaceful place and try to quiet your mind.
- Use soothing music to relax you – music that is timed to the breath. Make a sleep playlist on your smartphone with just music that is timed to your breath. Or try an audio book with a calming voice. Try relaxation or meditation songs that help with cognitive messages that assist in going to sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bedtime.
- Try massage oils with relaxing aromas such as lavender that help induce sleep. Apply them to your feet, hands, calves and temples.
- Try a relaxing tea an hour before sleep, such as Saffron, Chamomile or Lavender, but don’t consume caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime, and avoid smoking 1-2 hours before bedtime.
- Hunger may wake you up. Don’t go to bed hungry, but avoid eating (especially sugar) at least one hour before going to bed and don’t overeat.
- If you worry at bedtime, write down your concerns before going to bed and put the writing next to your bed. This will act as a symbolic and literal way of putting your concerns aside.
- Ask your physician if you might use a vitamin such as Valerian to assist in sleep.
If you experience a traumatic event, some people even suffer from nightmares and flashbacks. But these usually decrease over time as you process your experience and have opportunities to talk to a family member, friend or professional.