BI Blog: Sleep

There is loads of information online about what to do when you can’t sleep, so you don’t need me to reiterate it.

Here are two excellent websites that talk about sleep and BI

Sleep Disorders and TBIs

More about sleep disorders

However, there are a few things I had to figure out for myself, so I’ll put those here in case they’re useful.

  • Doctors don’t like prescribing medication for sleep – and they are absolutely right to be reluctant. Strong sleep medication is addictive, and quickly becomes ineffective. However, taking strong medication for a short period of time (maybe only a few weeks) can be enough to get the body over whatever barriers it has created (fear, habit, whatever). Once you are through the initial barriers, it’s important to stop taking the addictive medication and move onto something gentler, then deal with remaining issues through other means.
  • If you have a tendency to wake up a lot in the night – DON’T LOOK AT THE CLOCK. If the desire to do this is too great, hide the clock before you go to bed. By looking at the clock when you wake, you are programming your brain to wake at that time. That might sound odd, but try it for a few days.
  • Stress about sleeping can stop you sleeping. It’s true you need to take lack of sleep seriously, but once you have come up with methods for dealing with it, you need to try and let the worry go.
  • If noises wake you up, then get a noise machine (although some people hate the sound of these). They make a constantly whirring sound like a fan.
  • As I said, there is plenty of conflicting information online about how to sleep, but one thing seems fairly universal – spend at least an hour before you sleep not looking at any kind of screen (TV, laptop, kindle). Instead do something restful, not exciting, not stimulating. If reading is difficult, then maybe drawing or listening to an audio book is better.
  • Don’t pay attention to your dreams. In this culture there is some focus on dreams as being important and oracular. With PTSD, dreams can become intense and seem important, but paying attention to them, especially writing them down, makes you more likely to wake up after having them.

As always any additional information in the comments is much appreciated.