You might think that sleep would come easily once you’re back in civilian life, but sleep disorders affect far too many veterans — especially those who have concerns like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In fact, research has shown that insomnia is a common symptom for those who have PTSD or other post combat sleep disorders. To make matters more frustrating, sleep loss makes life challenging during the daytime and even exacerbates other symptoms of PTSD.
So how can you stop this cycle? While there isn’t a magical cure that works for every individual, there are a few reliable strategies that can be highly effective. The following tips could help you avoid costly sleep disorders, presented below courtesy of Men’s Health Cures.
How Veterans Can Avoid Crucial Sleep Disorders and Get a Better Night’s Rest
Focus on Sleep Quality
If you have a hard time getting enough sleep, it’s possible that poor quality sleep is to blame. Poor quality sleep causes you to toss and turn and wake frequently. In many cases, sleeping on the wrong mattress is at the root of the problem.
A whole host of factors related to your mattress can make a major difference in sleep quality, such as how old your mattress is, the type of mattress you have, and even the size and material.
If you have a smaller bed but a large build, upgrading to a larger bed may resolve some of your sleep disorders. Even for individuals who don’t have a large build, many find that a queen-sized mattress is the ideal fit for having enough sleeping space without taking up too much space in your bedroom.
If you still feel confused by all the options on the market, start by choosing the best size and then think about your sleep style to narrow down the field.
How Does your Environment Affect your Sleep
Your overall environment also plays a huge part in ensuring that you sleep well night after night. More than just having the optimum sleep environment, it’s also a good idea to clean and de-clutter as mess can have negative effects on your mental and overall well being.
Also, invest in some things that could help make this environment more inviting for sleep, including black-out curtains and, possibly, a small sound system so you can listen to things that help you relax (white noise, music, or ASMR videos, for example).
Job-related Stress and Sleep Disorders
Moreover, Is job stress keeping you up at night? If so, it may be time for a career change. If you want to learn some new skills for this new career, you may want to consider going back to school. Fortunately, online programs make it easier than ever to earn a degree in a field of your choice so you can start something new.
Online degrees are designed to fit your schedule so you can continue to work as you learn. However, do plenty of research before enrolling and make sure that the online school you select is accredited.
Set a Disciplined Sleep Schedule
Have you ever heard someone say they stick to a schedule “with military precision?” For veterans who struggle with insomnia, one of the best things you can do is stick to a strict sleep schedule.
This means setting a regular bedtime and wake time (even on weekends) and going through a bedtime routine before you even lie down.
Because everyone is unique, it’s important to find a sleep routine that works for you. While many people need absolute quiet to sleep well, a veteran who has ringing in the ears may sleep better with the help of white noises.
Along with finding the sleep environment and routine that suits you personally, we also recommend these general guidelines for a good sleep schedule:
Relax and Unwind: As much as you may enjoy a good TV show, the BBC explains that it’s a good idea to turn off any kind of media before your bedtime routine. Instead, try relaxation exercises, meditation, or prayer to quiet your mind and find a positive focus to eliminate sleep disorders when you return from active duty.
Give Yourself Enough Time: Once you’ve found a good relaxation activity, be sure to give yourself enough time to unwind. If you try to rush this process, you may end up feeling stressed about trying to relax, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!
When you keep a routine before going to bed, part of what you’re doing is telling your brain it’s time to set aside whatever is weighing on you. In a sense, you’re rewiring your brain to associate sleep with relaxation and calm. We know that this is an uphill challenge, especially for veterans dealing with PTSD. However, just like any other routine, once your body and brain adjust, you’ll come to rely on the comfort it brings.