Sleep problems go hand-in-hand with PTSD, and I’ve found I’m no exception to the rule. I have problems falling asleep and staying asleep, so I tell all my friends that no one may call me after 9:00 p.m. short of an all-out emergency.
The other night, a friend called after I’d gone to bed. I awoke from a sound sleep and grabbed the phone (I’ve had too many nights of sitting up with family and friends who were dying to let the phone go unanswered). I was only on the phone for a couple of minutes, but it was enough to keep me up until 4:00 a.m.
Being a poor sleeper means I’m sleep deprived most of the time. Many days I struggle to stay awake. I overeat out of frustration at not being able to fall asleep, and I crave comfort foods (high calorie) when I’m over tired. Worse of all is trying to make my brain work the next day. Sometimes I feel as if the world is passing me by and I’m just too tired to care.
Fortunately, I’ve learned a few tricks to help me cope with the problem. I don’t struggle to stay in bed if I’m not sleepy. I get up out of bed. I may read, clean house, work on an art project, or whatever captures my interest at the time, but staying in bed getting mad because I’m not sleepy doesn’t help at all!
I often rely on soft music to help me fall asleep. I’ve found that classical music helps me relax and often breaks the cycle of “psychobabble” I have going on in my head. Music gives me something else to think about other than my problems. I choose the classical music because it does not stimulate me to be more active. Soft music allows my brain to slow down and get into the proper mode for sleeping.
I also try to keep my bedroom a bit on the cooler side. I know I won’t sleep if it’s too warm. Then all I do is focus on how uncomfortable I am and that gets me no-where. I also sometimes take a pain pill. Because I have arthritis with accompanying pain most of the time, I am often not consciously aware that I hurt. If the music doesn’t work, then a pain pill is soon to follow, and it almost always does the trick.
Whatever you try to cope with sleeping difficulties, keep searching until you find what works. Live is too short to do less!