You simply have to look at someone suffering from high levels of stress or a traumatic event and you know they’re not sleeping. Unfortunately, this lack of sleep makes it harder to cope with the initial stress. Even regular daily events become complicated, and before they know it, everything has gone wrong and become more stressful, which just exacerbates the problem.
So, what can they do about it? Alcohol and drugs certainly won’t help. Talking about it will, but usually only after some time has passed. What they need in the short-term is something to help them relax and beat the bad dreams, fatigue, and insomnia.
Why We Can’t Sleep When We’re Stressed
When we’re dealing with a lot of stress, or are suffering through a traumatic event, our brain goes into overdrive. It floods itself with neurochemicals such as epinephrine and adrenaline that stay in the brain until we’ve calmed down.
Unfortunately, they also make it hard to relax. They stop us from sleeping, causing insomnia, and interrupt us with dreams when we do manage to nod off. And once we suffer a dream, flashback, or experience fear, our bodies produce more neurochemicals, and the process begins all over again. Fortunately, according to sleep experts at the National Sleep Foundation there is something you can do to fall asleep.
Insomnia, Bad Dreams, and Your Hot Tub
To chase away the things that keep you awake and wound up, find activities that naturally relax you. Go for a nice, slow walk. Then, head for your hot tub just before bed.
Turn on some soothing music, grab a good book, and light some candles. Then, climb into your hot tub, sit back, and feel the jets naturally ebbing and pushing away the tightness from your muscles and the stress from your mind.
The Dos and Don’ts of Getting a Good Night Sleep
Many people get in the habit of eating or drinking before bed. And while sleep experts agree it’s okay to have a little something before bed, too much food or drink can promote nightmares and keep you awake. And contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t help. It just complicates the issue, preventing you from sleeping.
Before you even try to sleep, reduce your stress load. Avoid the news or serious phone calls before bed. Also, avoid games and activities that stimulate your brain, especially talking about serious and traumatic events — leave those topics for the early part of your day.
Don’t pressure yourself into sleeping in your bedroom at bedtime. It may well be the most comfortable time and place to sleep, but there’s no point in forcing yourself if you’re not ready.
Instead, go to bed whenever you feel sleepy, and sleep somewhere you feel safe, secure and comfortable. And if you need a nap during the day, do it. The National Sleep Foundation says even 15-45 minutes can make you feel a lot better.
It can be tough getting a good night’s rest, particularly after a traumatic experience. But it’s worth the effort. It may not change or improve the situation, but having a clear mind will make whatever you face the next day a whole lot easier to handle.