June 10

A Veteran’s Guide to Getting Better Sleep

Stress and Anxiety


Many veterans report that they have trouble getting a good night's rest. In some cases, insomnia can be associated with mental health concerns, so it’s important to ensure you get enough sleep so you can feel your best. If you’re a veteran struggling with insomnia, the below guidelines can help pave the path towards a restful night.

Get a new mattress

The first thing to check is your mattress for telltale signs that it's time for a change, such as lumpiness or sagging. It also might be a problem if your mattress is too small; if you find you’re awakening every time your partner rolls over, or if your limbs dangle off the edge, you might need a larger mattress.

Queen-sized mattresses have been a popular choice among consumers for years. A queen size can be ideal if you currently feel cramped but your space can't accommodate a king-size bed. There is a plethora of firmnesses and materials, so once you settle on a size, think through what else will keep you comfortable. With queen mattresses being so readily available, there is a little of everything out there.

Consider a weighted blanket

Once you have your new mattress, upgrade your linens accordingly. Look for fabrics that will accommodate your needs as a sleeper. For instance, if you tend to get sweaty at night, moisture-wicking sheets can be a boon.

If you struggle with anxiety, you might consider a weighted blanket. According to Harvard Health, applying weight to the body is thought to have a calming impact. A weighted blanket may thus help ease stress.

You can even DIY a weighted blanket, and like mattresses, there is a solution for various needs. For instance, if you have restless leg syndrome, you might only want a weighted blanket over your lower half, and you might want to experiment with various amounts of weight.

Nix light, noise, and clutter from your bedroom

Make your bedroom pitch black at night by installing blackout curtains or shutters. Even if it doesn’t physically wake you, light activates your brain's wakefulness response. You might not realize it, but you aren’t getting a less restful sleep when this occurs.

Noise can also interfere with the quality of your sleep even if it doesn’t bring you to full consciousness. You might not be able to completely block out noises from the outside world but you can drown them out with a white noise machine. Programming the device to play soothing sounds like rainfall or ocean waves can prove useful. Alternatively, you could listen to soft music to help you relax and fall asleep.

Lastly, clutter could have a serious effect on the quality of your sleep. A chaotic, overstuffed space (such as a bedroom) can often leave you feeling stressed and anxious, which are never good when you’re attempting to fall asleep. So, get your bedroom decluttered and keep it organized — your sleep schedule will thank you.

Use scents to soothe yourself to sleep

Sight and hearing aren’t the only senses to impact your sleep. Scientific American notes smell can also impact your mood. Set the scene for a peaceful slumber by investing in some sleep-promoting candles from Powerfully Pure

You could also pick up an oil diffuser. This device disperses essential oils into the air, where the scents can be absorbed by the body and inhaled. Many diffusers work on a timer basis, allowing you to control how frequently they emit a burst of fresh fragrance into the room. When selecting oils for your diffuser, look for aromas that support relaxation, like lavender and vanilla.

Cut down on screen time before bed

If you spend hours before bed scrolling through social media on your phone or watching TV on your tablet, it’s time to reconsider your bedtime routine. These devices emit blue light, which is shown to interfere with the body’s production of melatonin.

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep and induces feelings of tiredness. Without sufficient melatonin production, you will find it hard to drift off once you shut your eyes. Stop using screens a couple of hours before bed. Instead, opt for relaxing activities, like reading or stretching.

Follow the above tips and you should find it easier to get a solid night of snoozing in. Getting back to civilian life after a stint of military service isn’t always easy. You don’t want a lack of sufficient sleep to reduce your quality of life.

Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

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