Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial in recovering from a traumatic event or stressor. It may be difficult for you to develop a normal sleep pattern after a trauma, as you may be disturbed by worry or fear. Lacking in sleep in turn worsens your symptoms, interrupting the delicate emotional balance.
When you sleep, your mind and body are given time to heal and recover. During this time, your cells and hormones rebalance and repair. Not only does the adequate amount of sleep give you the energy you need to process and heal grief, but it also gives you better memory and judgement.
Grief is something that requires a lot of energy and can be extremely draining. Sleep is something that may seem simple, but can have a huge impact on your ability to cope.
After a trauma you may have to take an active role in getting enough sleep. It may not come easy, but with practice, it can come easier. You must find what works for you.
The first thing that can help is setting a consistent bedtime. This means going to bed at the same time every night. Chose a time when you feel tired, so you aren’t tossing and turning, or laying awake for hours. Waking up at the same time everyday also helps you maintain a regular sleep schedule. If you’re getting enough sleep every night, you should wake up without an alarm clock.
If you are having difficulty falling asleep at night, it may be due to the activities you participate in before bedtime. Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bed, and try not to use them. Light suppresses melatonin production, which makes you sleepy, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Keeping noise down before bed also makes your bedroom more sleep friendly. Another thing to try is sleeping in a cooler room. Most people sleep best at around 65 degrees F. If a room is too hot, it may prevent you from sleeping comfortably. It is also best to avoid eating big meals at night, as the digestion can keep you up. Also avoid drinking too many liquids, which may result in frequent trips to the bathroom.
Some more relaxing activities to try before bed are: reading a book or magazine by soft light, take a warm bath, listen to soft music, light stretching, listen to books on tape, make simple preparations for tomorrow.