“I can’t sleep. When I lay in bed at night, my anxiety and bad memories haunt me and keep me awake. I’m scared if I fall asleep, the nightmares will come. Every night between 2am and 3am, I wake up again with insomnia. When my alarm finally goes off, I’m exhausted. It’s hard to focus on my schoolwork, exams and job interviews when I’m such a tired, jumpy mess.“Freda, University Student
Can’t sleep? You CAN stop anxiety, nightmares and insomnia caused by traumatic memories. With better sleep, you can invest your energy in building your future instead of being dragged down by your past. Try these three tips for a better night’s sleep, inspired by the legendary trauma expert, Dr. Judith Hermann.
1. Calm your nervous system
Trauma is stored in the body, not just the mind. You may notice that you’re more jumpy than usual, and you may feel your anxiety and fear in your body, a burning in your chest, shaky hands, tight shoulders or restless legs. Once you notice how you feel traumatic stress in your body, you can work to release it. Try a good workout like running or dancing to burn off nervous energy. Then, calm your nervous system with breathing-based movement like yoga or meditation. Body work like massage, Feldenkrais or acupuncture can also help rebalance your energy. A tired body and a calm nervous system will make you less likely to suffer from anxiety, nightmares and insomnia at night.
2. Clear your mind
Your mind may feel stuck in the past, as if the traumatic event is still happening now, over and over again. This is a typical symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Talk to your doctor about therapy for your trauma. In the meantime, writing about the traumatic memory can help you clear your mind to get a good night’s sleep. Detrauma is designed to walk you through five writing therapy exercises to relieve distressing symptoms like anxiety, nightmares and insomnia, day or night.
3. Reconnect with your life
Traumatic memories have a way of trapping you in the past. Try intentionally focusing your energy on the present moment to divert your mind. Activities that require your whole attention like playing sports, doing art, socializing and helping others will help retrain your mind to focus on the present moment rather than the past.
By calming your body and nervous system, clearing your mind of bad memories, and filling your days with joy and connection, you’re more likely to hit the pillow at night with a clear head and get a good night’s sleep without anxiety, nightmares and insomnia.