Sleep and PTSD: So, What am I Doing Wrong?

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping…ok, if I’m honest, most of the time I have problems sleeping. It drives me nuts that I can be exhausted all day long, then go to bed and not be able to sleep. What’s that all about?

I have been diagnosed with PTSD. For me that means I have a long history of sleeping lightly, of being able to wake up alert and ready to fight. Nightmares and trouble sleeping are just two of the more common symptoms of PTSD.

So, what’s behind the person with PTSD having sleep problems?

I don’t have to put a lot of thought into why I can’t sleep; I understand it’s because I want to feel safe and prepared for anything. What does intrigue me though is what can I do to get around it?

The VA has some suggestions:

 Change your sleeping area. Take a good look at your bedroom: is it helping you sleep or making your sleepless nights possible? Is there too much noise, light or activity in your bedroom? Turn off the computer and the television. Turn the lights down and try putting on some soft, peaceful music. In my case, it means kicking 4 puppies out of my bed!
 Maintain a routine sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and try to wake up at the same time too. Don’t get involved in activities that require a lot of activity. That only energizes you and makes the situation worse.
 If you can’t sleep, don’t fight it. Get up and read or do something quiet until you start to feel sleepy.
 Don’t exercise within 2 hours of going to bed, but do get some exercise earlier in the day.
 Get out in the sunshine if you can. It helps reset your body’s sleep and wake cycles.
 Keep caffeinated drinks to a minimum.
 Don’t nap during the day.

If things don’t get better, consider talking to your doctor about the problem. There are drugs that can help. You might also want to look into alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, breathing techniques, and guided imagery.

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