Dental One Associates at Beltway
7650 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21236
Sleep is crucial to good physical and mental health. Unfortunately, many people do not get the necessary quantity or quality of sleep. Often, this inability to sleep is a symptom of some other, more serious condition. For example, sleep issues can be a problem for people who have been through some form of traumatic experience such as war or an assault. These experiences may cause some to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Although a number of symptoms are associated with PTSD, difficulty sleeping is one of the most common.
There are a number of reasons why PTSD causes sleep problems. Frequent nightmares, which are also a common symptom of PTSD, can make it difficult for people to fall asleep or stay asleep. The terror of these nightmares can interrupt sleep by forcing the individual to wake. The anticipation of having a nightmare can also make it difficult or even impossible to fall asleep at all. Some people may experience symptoms of being hyperaroused. This hyperarousal makes them feel extremely alert, sensitive, and anxious. As a result, they may be too edgy to fall asleep or too sensitive to their surroundings to stay asleep. Others may have difficulty sleeping because of substance abuse, or they may be besieged by negative thoughts brought on by fear and worry.
Sleep problems are extremely frustrating and can be the source of numerous personal and professional issues. When faced with PTSD-related sleep problems, people should be aware that in addition to seeing their health provider, other things can potentially increase their chances of getting a better night sleep.
Change Your Sleeping Area
Bedrooms are often too bright and active when they should have a quiet and soothing atmosphere. To create a sleeping environment that’s more tranquil and conducive to sleep, remove anything that’s potentially disruptive. To start, take most electronics out of the bedroom, including laptops and televisions. Cellphones can be turned off or placed in a drawer so that the light isn’t disruptive. Switch harsh bright lights to softer bulbs, and use blackout curtains to keep the room as dark as possible when the lights are out.
Keep a Bedtime Routine and Sleep Schedule
Setting and keeping a sleep schedule is a way for people to get into the habit of falling asleep. A sleep schedule will ensure that the individual goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day. To ensure that this schedule is kept, let family and friends know not to call after a certain time at night or before a certain time in the morning. Keep this schedule even on the weekends. Wearing earplugs can prove helpful in homes where the sound from outside sources is an issue.
Try to Relax if You Can’t Sleep
When feelings of stress or anxiety make it difficult to sleep, there are things that one can do to feel more relaxed and, as a result, more likely to fall asleep. A warm bath, for example, is soothing and can help calm one’s nerves. Reading a book or listening to soft music is helpful for some, but one should avoid topics that are too heavy or serious. Meditation or light exercise such as yoga are also ways that people can potentially relax enough to get the sleep that they need.
Watch Your Activities During the Day
What a person does while they are awake can contribute to their sleep problems. This includes what they put into their bodies. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are all things that are stimulating and can impact the quality of one’s sleep. Limit or avoid consuming these when possible, particularly during the evening hours. People should also avoid eating heavy meals late at night as it can cause discomfort when attempting to fall asleep. Spending time outdoors and participating in physical activities during the day can help people feel more tired and potentially help them sleep better at night. Certain medications and exercising later in the day, however, can cause people to feel more stimulated and, as a result, keep them up at night.