Veterans, especially those with PTSD or chronic pain, are more likely to suffer from insomnia than the general population. Given that sleep has a considerable effect on a person’s quality of life, combating insomnia and getting your daily eight hours is a must.
Though professional help for PTSD and chronic pain is essential to recovery, veterans can apply a few techniques on their own. Here are seven tips for vets with insomnia to help you get back catching Zs instead of counting sheep.
Sleep in a comfortable location
If you’re dealing with old injuries or PTSD, comfort is key to getting good sleep. That means you need a space that won’t bring up any triggers or aggravate any old wounds. You also need to sleep somewhere that’s physically comfortable for you.
A standard bed may not work for various reasons, and you might need to get creative with a lift chair like these. Lift chairs look like traditional recliners, but they allow for more positions so you can find a comfortable sleeping pose.
If you’re one of many veterans dealing with chronic pain, a lift chair might be ideal. Using a specially designed chair, you can sleep in a zero-gravity position that promotes spine alignment, enhances circulation, and promotes deeper breathing. That way, you can reach a state of complete relaxation quickly and float off to dreamland.
Avoid activities that interfere with sleep
Eating a massive meal or napping all afternoon is sure to make falling asleep that much harder later on. But did you know that a glass of beer at dinner could be just as harmful?
Alcohol use and abuse are prevalent amongst veterans who struggle with PTSD. Unfortunately, alcohol and quality sleep don’t go together. Enjoying a nightcap can negatively affect your sleep patterns and may worsen your insomnia.
Create a good bedtime routine
A consistent bedtime routine can teach your brain when it’s time for sleep, which may help keep insomnia at bay and even out your Circadian rhythm.
Follow the same steps before you go to bed each night, and try to include a few relaxation-promoting activities. Try taking a warm bath or listening to soft music while you brush your teeth. These practices will help you reach a more snooze-friendly state.
Manage your stress
As a veteran, you’ve probably spent a lot of time on high alert, and your brain may have a hard time managing that stress. Try out a few stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, or breathwork. With just a few minutes a day, you might be able to reduce your insomnia and more effectively relax your body.
Pay attention to your body’s sleep cues
When dealing with insomnia, it’s crucial to listen to your body’s cues. Don’t force extra sleep on yourself. Trying to go to bed exceptionally early can make insomnia worse. You’ll likely lie there, tossing and turning for hours without relief. Instead, sleep when your body is tired and stick to a consistent sleeping schedule where possible.
Eat well and exercise regularly
A good diet and regular exercise both promote better sleep. While you’re at it, consider moving your workout or lunch outdoors. Getting daytime sunlight can regulate your sleep clock and mitigate your insomnia symptoms.
Ask friends and family for support
Some veterans feel more comfortable when they’re not alone while they sleep. If that’s you, consider inviting a friend or family member to stay with you. Sleeping with a trusted friend or family member nearby can make it that much easier to catch some shut-eye.
Dealing with insomnia isn’t an easy task, even for a battle-hardened veteran. Luckily, there are things you can do to help improve your sleep. By applying the tips above, you’ll be that much closer to hitting the hay.