“All human life has its seasons, and no one’s personal chaos can be permanent: winter, after all does not last forever does it? There is summer, too, and spring, and though sometimes when branches stay dark and the earth cracks with ice, one thinks they will never come, that spring, that summer, but they do, and always."
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Can't Sleep? 15 Tips You Can Try
by Connie Saindon, MA, MFT, Founder: Survivors of Violent Loss Program
In animal sleep, a sloth sleeps 20 hours a day while a porpoise sleeps half a brain at a time. Birds do not sleep and rabbits and squirrels sleep 10-14 hours a day. People need a wide variation of sleep and can range from 1-10 hours a day. There is more need for sleep at birth, while as we age our sleep needs are less and lighter.
Sleep problems are a common symptom for people who are recovering from traumatic events. One's usual methods for falling asleep may no longer work. Disturbing thoughts of reenactment, rescue or reunion may interfere with one's sleep cycle. Nightmares and sleep terrors occur in response to adjusting to shattered realties.
Practice "Good Sleep Hygiene." Here are some tips for you to try:
1. No reading or watching TV in bed. These are waking activities. If your insomnia is chronic, it is not a good thing to do, says Dr. Alex Clerk, head of Stanford Sleep Disorder Clinic in Palo Alto.
2. Go to bed when you're sleepy-tired, not when it's time to go to bed by habit.
3. Wind down during the second half of the evening before bedtime. 90 minutes before bed, don't get involved in any kind of anxiety provoking activities or thoughts.
4. Do some breathing exercises or try to relax major muscle groups, starting with the toes and ending with your forehead.
5. Your bed is for sleeping, if you can't sleep after 15-20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing.
6. Have your room cool rather than warm.
7. Don't count sheep, counting is stimulating.
8. Exercise in the afternoon or early evening, but no later than 3 hours before bedtime.
9. Don't over-eat, and eat 2-3 hours before bedtime.
10. Don't nap during the day.
11. If you awake in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep within 30 minutes, get up and do something else.
12. Have No coffee, alcohol or cigarettes two to three hours before bedtime.
13. If you have disturbing dreams or nightmares add an ending that you want.
14. Schedule a half-hour writing about your concerns and hopes in a journal every night to free up your sleep from processing your dilemmas as much.
15. Listen to calming music or a self-hypnosis tape for sleep.
If sleep problems persist, contact your physician or mental health professional. Let them know what is happening in your life. Your problem may have either organic or psychological contributors. Sleep disorders are classified as chronic if they persist more than one month. There are of two major categories of sleep disorders. They are Dyssomnias -- when there are problems with the amount, quality or timing of sleep and Parasomnias -- when there are abnormal events occurring during sleep stages.
Sleep difficulties can mean that their is an underlying problem that needs treatment. J. Christain Gillin, M.D. states that most patients that have a sleep disorder have an underlying psychiatric disorder. The different kind of sleep disorders include insomnia, hypersonmia-excessive daytime sleeping, Nightmare Disorder, Narcolepsy-irresistible attacks of sleep, Sleep-apnea and Sleepwalking. Let us know if these tips help you and also if you have one that works for you and is not listed here.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.
Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman, M.D.
Retelling Violent Death by Ted Rynearson, M.D., Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.