Stress from a traumatic event can often lead to a variety of sleep problems. When the body is overstimulated, the brain is flooded with neurochemicals that keep us awake, making it difficult to wind down at the end of the day. The neurochemicals remain present in the brain and can interrupt your normal sleep cycle resulting in among other things insomnia.

Some tips on how to get a better night's sleep

  • Try and create a regular bedtime routine. This can help you wind down and prepare for bed.Your routine depends on what works for you, but the most important thing is working out a routine and sticking to it. So try and head to bed at the same time each night and set your alarm for the same time each day.
  • Try and limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine can remain in our body up to 5-7 hours after we’ve drunk it, so any consumption after midday can make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Do not use electrical devices in the bedroom. Try not to look at your phone when you are in bed or watch TV in your bedroom. Both these devices emit a blue-wavelength light which, to our brains, is similar to daylight which in turn can have a negative effect on sleep and sometimes the content we watch or see on social media can make us anxious.
  • Make sure you wind down before you head to bed. Perhaps have a warm bath (not hot), this will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest. Read a book or listen to the radio both of which help relax the mind by distracting it.
  • Try not to eat before going to bed. It is important to ensure a gap of several hours between our last meal and bedtime, as food is a strong signal to the brain that it is time to be awake.
  • Try a sleep App or relaxation CD. Some people find it really beneficial to use a sleep app or website such as Calm, Headspace, www.meditainment.com. Some of these are paid for but some are free, find out one that suits you best.
  • Adjusting your bedroom. Your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C.
  • Block out light and noise in your bedroom. Fit some thick curtains if you do not have any. If you're disturbed by noise, consider investing in double glazing or, for a cheaper option, use earplugs.
  • Lower your alcohol intake. Although some people are adamant that alcohol helps them to relax and get off to sleep, it actually reduces the amount and quality of REM sleep which is so crucial for emotional processing.
  • Avoid watching scary films, crime dramas or even the news near to bedtime which, although entertaining, may leave you feeling unsettled.

And Lastly…

  • Try and keep a sleep diary. It can be a good idea to keep a sleep diary. It may uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness and reasons why you’re unable to get to sleep.

Have a read of one of our blogs written by Dr Sarah Hattam “Sleep and Emotional First Aid” who also has some great tips on how to get a good night’s slep. https://www.starsdorset.org/blog/sleep-and-emotional-first-aid