How Veterans Can Get Enough Sleep and Improve Well-Being
By Brad Krause
If you are a veteran struggling to get enough sleep at night, or if you have a loved one who is, you’re not alone.
Many military members are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain trauma, and other mental health conditions that are known to interrupt evening shut-eye.
Although it can be difficult to live with these issues, veterans don’t have to suffer in silence. With proper treatments and self-care steps, they can feel well-rested, ease symptoms and get back to living life.
If frequent nightmares, insomnia, or another sleep-related issue is part of the problem, there’s hope for healing.
Here are three things veterans can do to bring more shut-eye (and mental wellness) back into schedules.
Have the Right Mattress
As we all know, a comfortable, supportive and properly sized mattress is crucial for a good night’s sleep. If you start feeling overwhelmed by all the options, start by considering your needs.
- Do you sleep by yourself or with a significant other?
- Do you feel cramped in your current mattress?
- What size mattress would best suit your bedroom?
If a queen mattress feels too constricting or narrow and if the bedroom can accommodate a bigger mattress, it might be time to size up to a king. A king-sized mattress can be a great choice for extra sleeping space.
Because a mattress purchase is a significant investment, shop around and weigh your options.
Focus on finding a mattress that’s ideal for your sleeping style, preferred firmness, and physical conditions. For instance, if you sleep on your back or stomach, or if you have an existing spinal condition, you’ll want a firm mattress that provides lumbar support.
To prevent waking up with aches and pains throughout the night, opt for a brand like the Leesa Hybrid or the Nest Hybrid. According to MySlumberYard, both of these mattress brands support spines in various sleeping positions, while also accommodating all body types and sizes.
Beat Insomnia by Breathing
Although it might sound too good to be true, the cure for insomnia could be as simple as your breath. To ease your mind into slumber, the AARP recommends trying progressive muscle relaxation or following this step-by-step breathing technique:
- Take a big exhale through your mouth.
- Slowly and gently inhale through your nose while counting to four.
- Hold your breath while counting to four.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth while counting to four.
- Repeat as many times as needed.
If your mind is wandering and you can’t stay focused on your breath, you might benefit from guided audio.
To help you get some shut-eye, try googling “yoga Nidra” or “guided meditations.” If you have a smartphone, install a free breathing app like Calm, which provides audio and visual guides you can follow along with as you slow your breath — and ease your mind.
Improve Your Mental Health
One final tip for better sleep is to boost mental and emotional wellness.
That might mean carving out time in your schedule for self-care and fitness. Additionally, it might mean seeking treatment for a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
If you suspect you have PTSD, for instance, you might speak to a licensed professional about potential treatment methods. For example, eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and exposure therapy are just a handful of the many treatments currently available for symptom management.
Although you might be tempted to self-medicate for trouble sleeping or mental health issues, never try sedatives without guidance from a medical professional.
Medications have side effects and can sometimes be addictive. By talking to a trained professional, treating any underlying mental health conditions and investing in the right mattress, you can gradually improve your sleep and your quality of life.
After years in the corporate world, Brad Krause discovered that his real calling is helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall well-being. You can reach him at selfcaring.info.