Struggling to get a good night’s sleep can be paralyzing, especially for those with PTSD. You deserve to achieve restful sleep. In this blog post, we’ll provide tips to help you make that a reality.
Quick facts: Sleeping Tips For Ptsd
- ✅ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective for treating sleep problems associated with PTSD, according to the National Center for PTSD (Source: National Center for PTSD).
- ✅ A study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that focusing on relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualized imagery can help reduce symptoms of PTSD and improve sleep (Source: The American Journal of Psychiatry).
- ✅ A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that reducing stress and anxiety before bedtime through exercise and relaxation techniques can improve sleep quality in people with PTSD (Source: Journal of Clinical Psychology).
- ✅ A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews found that a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and stress management techniques can help improve sleep quality in individuals with PTSD (Source: Sleep Medicine Reviews).
- ✅ A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews found that exposure therapy can help to increase the amount of time spent in deep, restorative sleep in people with PTSD (Source: Sleep Medicine Reviews).
Establish a Sleep Routine
Establishing a sleep routine is one of the most important steps one can take to address sleep disturbances due to PTSD. A good sleep routine can help you to relax and create an atmosphere that is conducive for a restful sleep. Having a pre-bed routine can also help to reduce anxiety levels which in turn can make it easier to fall asleep.
Let’s take a closer look at how to develop a good sleeping routine:
Set a consistent bedtime
Having a consistent, regular sleep routine is essential for those with PTSD. The body has an internal clock, so it helps to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This signals for your body to become accustomed to going to sleep and waking up at set times.
As part of your routine, try to avoid activities like using your phone, watching television or eating in bed that stimulate your brain before you attempt to fall asleep. Additionally, initiate any relaxing activities such as reading a book or drinking tea before you get into bed. These activities can help trigger your brain that it is time for bed.
Avoid napping during the day so you are more tired at night which will then make it easier for you to fall asleep when it’s time for bed:
- Avoid activities that stimulate your brain before bedtime.
- Initiate relaxing activities such as reading a book or drinking tea before you get into bed.
- Avoid napping during the day.
Avoid naps during the day
For those suffering from PTSD, avoiding naps during the day is a key part of establishing a good sleep routine. Napping during the day can disrupt the normal body clock and make it harder to drift off at night. Furthermore, naps can also increase feelings of anxiety and restlessness during the evening due to added daytime sleepiness. For those with PTSD, daytime napping may also compromise therapist-led treatment engagement which could further delay your recovery process.
However, if you feel an occasional nap is necessary for maximum functioning and alertness then you should try limiting it to a 30 minute power nap and avoid sleeping any longer than that. It’s also important to note that if your insomnia is severely affecting your daily life then you may want to consider talking with a mental health professional as they may be able to help you establish better daily habits that will better support healthy sleep patterns.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants
Caffeine and other stimulants, such as nicotine and some medications, can interfere with sleep. Therefore, for those with PTSD, it is important to limit or avoid caffeine intake near bedtime. Caffeine can stay in your system for six to eight hours, so it is best to avoid any caffeinated products after mid-afternoon.
It is also important to note that certain medications or supplements may act as stimulants that disrupt sleep cycles. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist about your concerns, and they can provide additional guidance regarding medication and supplement usage. Additionally, alcohol should be avoided before bed time as it has been shown to reduce quality of sleep despite making individuals feel drowsy initially.
Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment
Having a good night’s sleep is essential for people with PTSD, but it can often be a challenging task. In order to help those with PTSD have a better night’s sleep, it is important to create a calming and relaxing sleep environment.
This includes creating a comfortable bed, temperature control, adequate light control and noise reduction. Let’s dive into the details of how to create the perfect sleep environment:
Keep the bedroom cool and dark
The bedroom should be a place of rest and comfort, especially for those with PTSD who may experience sleep disturbances. Keeping the room cool and dark is key to creating a sleep-friendly environment. The ideal temperature for restful sleep is between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 degrees Celsius).
It is also important to eliminate or reduce any sources of light in the bedroom, such as TV screens, smartphones, and computer monitors. Additionally, blackout shades or curtains can help block out ambient light from street lamps or passing car headlights. By creating a cool and dark space, you will give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
Block out noise with earplugs or white noise
White noise can help to reduce the perceived volume of external sounds, such as traffic or conversations in the house. It can also be helpful if you have difficulty sleeping due to intrusive thoughts or racing mind. Additionally, earplugs are a great way to block out any background noise. Earplugs often come in disposable foam that you can throw away after use, and they’re more comfortable than earmuffs. If you’re especially sensitive to sounds while trying to sleep, this may be the best option for you.
Blocking noise is important for those living with PTSD because it reduces distraction from outside noises which can exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, shutting out sound may create a sense of safety and security that otherwise wouldn’t be present in an environment where noise-induced stress is present.
If none of these options work for you or don’t produce the desired effect, there are other options such as:
- Downloading white noise applications on a mobile device
- Using a sound machine or fan instead
Use a weighted blanket or eye mask
Weighted blankets and eye masks can be very effective in helping individuals with PTSD relax and sleep soundly. A weighted blanket applies pressure to the entire body, creating a safe and comforting feeling of being hugged. This helps to reduce muscular tension, lower cortisol levels, and regulate breathing.
An eye mask can be helpful in providing a sense of safety, as it blocks out any light and allows the individual to feel secure. By incorporating these items into one’s sleep routine or environment, an individual can begin to develop healthier sleep patterns that are free from intrusive symptoms of PTSD. Ultimately, this can lead to improved quality of life and mental health overall!
Reduce Stress Before Bed
Reducing stress before bed can be a helpful tool for those with PTSD when it comes to sleeping better at night. By employing practice such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation, individuals with PTSD can create a space of relaxation and trust in order to settle into a more restful sleep.
Let’s look at some of the practices you can use to reduce stress before bed:
Practice deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and relax before bed. It is a form of mindful meditation that allows you to slow down your heart rate and clear your head of any negative thoughts or worries. When practiced regularly, deep breathing can help reduce levels of stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality.
To practice deep breathing exercises, start by sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, take a few moments to relax your body, then focus on taking slower breaths:
- Inhale through the nose while imagining the air filling up your lungs.
- Exhale through the mouth while counting to four.
This exercise can be repeated several times until you feel relaxed and ready for bed.
Take a warm bath or shower
Taking a warm bath or shower can be one of the most effective ways to reduce stress before bedtime. Not only do they help relax tense muscles, they also help promote a feeling of peace and relaxation. Adding essential oils and Epsom salt can deepen the relaxation effects and give your body a much-needed boost of magnesium.
Warm baths or showers can also help lower cortisol levels, which is the hormone released during stressful situations. Additionally, warm baths help stimulate circulation, loosen muscles and relaxes the mind. Finally, hopping into a warm shower before bed can provide much needed relief from physical symptoms such as pain and inflammation so you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for your day ahead.
Write down worries in a journal
Writing down worries in a journal can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety before bed for those with PTSD. Journaling allows you to get all your troubles out of your head, so they don’t continue to spin around while you’re trying to sleep. For some people, writing down thoughts can act as a form of problem-solving, which can help them relax and let go of the worries.
When journaling, it’s important to keep it simple and stick to the basics – what was most troubling today or this week? What thoughts come up for you when you’re getting ready for sleep? What worries have been on your mind lately? Writing down these entries every day will help track patterns in your thoughts and feelings, as well as releasing whatever is keeping you awake at night.
Seek Professional Help
Often, people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) experience difficulty with sleeping. It is essential to seek professional help if you are struggling with sleeping problems due to PTSD. A professional can help you understand the root causes of your symptoms, develop management strategies, and provide support.
Let’s discuss some other tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:
Talk to a therapist or counselor
Sleeping can be an incredibly difficult task for those with PTSD. For this reason, it is important to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. A mental health professional can provide a safe place to talk about traumatic experiences and can help you develop positive coping strategies for dealing with the nightmares and insomnia so often associated with PTSD.
Some treatments for PTSD-related sleeping problems include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, which aim to reduce anxiety, fear, and avoidance triggers that may be responsible for poor sleeping habits.
- Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery in order to promote feelings of relaxation prior to sleep.
- Medication to regulate moods or facilitate improved sleep patterns.
Seeking professional help is key in overcoming PTSD-related sleeping issues so that you can live a more comfortable and healthy life.
Consider taking sleep medications
For those with PTSD, considering taking medications to help with sleep can be beneficial. Generally, medications for sleep fall into two categories: sedatives and non-sedatives.
Sedative-type medications are typically used as a short-term solution (typically no more than one week) and should be taken just before bedtime. Common sedative medications prescribed for PTSD-related insomnia include benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax as well as non-benzodiazepine hypnotics like Ambien or Lunesta.
Non-sedative medications, on the other hand, may be used over a longer period of time but do not produce an immediate effect in terms of inducing sleep. These types of medications generally take several weeks to become effective and are best used in combination with good sleep hygiene practices such as avoiding alcohol close to bedtime and curtailing caffeine use after midday. Examples of these types of medications include trazodone and mirtazapine.
It is important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons before starting any medication regimen for sleep issues related to PTSD.
Research alternative therapies
Researching alternative therapies is an important part of seeking professional help for those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Alternative therapies are treatments that involve non-traditional methods and may include lifestyle changes, nutrition, exercise or emotional and spiritual approaches. These treatments can often provide relief from anxiety and insomnia associated with PTSD.
It is important to research treatments thoroughly so that any decision made is an informed one. Asking your doctor or therapist for recommendations of what they believe may be best suited to your needs is also important in ensuring the best treatment plan possible is obtained. Additionally, consulting a mental health professional specializing in PTSD can be incredibly helpful in determining the suitable course of treatment.
Lastly, it’s essential to remember that a combination of traditional medications along with alternative therapies has been found to have the highest chance of providing a successful and lasting recovery from PTSD symptoms.
Get Support from Loved Ones
Getting adequate sleep is essential for everyone, but it is especially crucial for people with PTSD. It can be difficult to get enough rest without the help and support of your loved ones. Having a support system is key for those who are struggling to cope with their condition, and your loved ones can provide important emotional and practical support.
They can help you set realistic sleeping goals and create a sleep schedule that works for you. Let’s take a look at some specific tips for how your loved ones can help you get better sleep:
Ask for help when needed
Asking for help from loved ones is an important step for those struggling with PTSD. A supportive network of family and friends provides hope, comfort, and understanding as you work through your symptoms. Most people find that it can be difficult to find the motivation to seek assistance from family and peers, but doing so is essential in order to receive the support you need.
If possible, reach out to your loved ones in person or over the telephone. Talking face-to-face with a relative or friend can be incredibly reassuring and can provide an opportunity to share your journey openly without worrying about judgment or criticism. If reaching out in person isn’t feasible due to time or distance, try calling them on the phone instead, as this will still allow you some connection. Alternatively, many people benefit from joining online forums that are dedicated to helping individuals with PTSD. Interacting with others who understand what you are going through often leads to a sense of solidarity which may help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Talk about your feelings and concerns
Talking about your feelings and concerns with loved ones can be incredibly helpful for those dealing with PTSD. Talking about your experiences allows you to process the events in a safe, open environment where you know that the people around you will listen and understand. Your loved ones can provide emotional support and validation which can help you feel less alone and isolated.
Additionally, talking with your family or friends can enable them to better understand what you’re going through, allowing them to provide more helpful advice and support when it’s needed. If talking isn’t comfortable for you, consider writing down your thoughts in a diary or letter each day. Doing this not only helps get all of your thoughts out on paper, it also gives those close to you an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what you’re experiencing.
Connect with a support group
Support groups can be incredibly beneficial for those dealing with PTSD. Joining a support group can help you meet other people who are going through the same experiences and struggles. It also helps to build a sense of community and belonging, establishing connections with people who truly understand what it’s like to lead a life with PTSD.
Attending meetings or online forums allows you to:
- Discuss your feelings
- Share your story
- Talk openly about your fears and anxieties
- Gain insight into managing symptoms
- Get support from understanding peers
Having a safe place where you can go and share your feelings is vital in helping manage the loneliness and depression that may come along with PTSD. Furthermore, having meaningful relationships with others – especially fellow trauma survivors – can help reduce feelings of isolation which can further aid in managing PTSD symptoms.
FAQs about: Sleeping Tips For Ptsd
Q1: What are some techniques to help with sleeping with PTSD?
A1: There are several techniques that can help with sleeping with PTSD, including relaxation techniques like deep breathing and visualization, meditation and mindfulness, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a calming sleep environment.
Q2: What activities should I avoid before bed if I have PTSD?
A2: Before bed, it’s best to avoid activities that are stimulating or that can cause strong emotions such as watching television, using your phone, or engaging in conversations or activities that can be emotionally difficult.
Q3: Are there any medications that can help with sleeping with PTSD?
A3: Yes, there are medications that can help with sleeping with PTSD such as sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants. It’s important to speak with your doctor to find out which medication is best for your individual situation.