Nearly 30 million people who have not seen combat suffer from insomnia. Many more vets experience interrupted sleep or cannot go to sleep without drugging or drinking. Then there is the issue of intrusive thoughts or combat preoccupation with “I should have done, could have.” There are nightmares that are so real you feel like you are not in your bed but in the middle of battle. You are not alone and sometimes vets are so dissociated from the present they act out at night as if they are fighting off the enemy and end up accidently hitting or hurting their spouse/partner. In this case, no one wins. Fortunately there are tools out there that you can immediately access that do not require drink or drugs to solve the problem. The following outline will cover some simple things first that the family member can do and the second outline will direct you to a discounted CD that is used nationally and worldwide to help veterans sleep.
Let’s consider the simple stuff first:
- Make sure you are safe. If you feel like you could accidently hit or hurt your partner sleep in separate beds until you have control over flash backs. Find another place for your intimate time.
- Before bedtime avoid caffeine, the nightly news, your computer, or anything else that will stimulate your mind/body. The light from your computer changes the melanin in your brain and keeps you alert.
- ake a bath, do gentle stretches, listen to relaxing music, get ready to LET GO!
- When you get in bed do some deep breathing all the way up from the soles of your feet, filling your abdomen, chest and throat. Hold the air a few minutes and let it out SLOWLY. Do it again?
- Bring to mind an image of a peaceful place, maybe one from your childhood. Think of the smells, the sight, the sounds of the place in detail. Consider feeling wrapped in someone’s arms, safe.
- Think of letting go like a bird with wings spread flying. Put your arms over your chest and tap the sides of your arms with alternating right/left taps, thinking only of the peaceful/positive place. If negative images come in stop tapping. Go back and think again of your peaceful place. (Or a calming person/spiritual mentor).
- As you tap say the words to yourself: “I can let go. I can relax, I am safe here. I am done with my work.”
- As weird as it sounds you could sing a song to yourself that you loved as a kid. If there is a cowboy song like Happy Trails you remember, sing it to yourself. Choose something more contemporary if you like!
- If you wake up at night, bring up comfort images and tap them in. Tap back and forth telling yourself it is OK to be awake. You will be just fine in the morning. Don’t beat up on yourself and don’t tap if you are beating up on yourself!
For combat interrupted sleep the following resource is recommended: Go to http://www.healthjourneys.com to view the entire catalog of products by Belleruth Naparstek LISW available in CD or MP3 download.
- Scroll down the side to: For our Military.
- Go to the Transition Kit. If you put this in your cart, use the discount code: SS1508.
- There are specific CD’s for Sleep and specific CD’s for Traumatic Brain Injury. For example, the Traumatic Brain Injury comes with affirmations and the imagery is segmented with subtle ID markers that define each section of the imagery narrative. That means you can go directly to your favorite part. This allows for brief listening intervals for TBI sufferers who get fidgety with long narratives.
The sleep CD is created in co-authorship with Steve Mark Kohn. A military introduction is by David Rauls, ISG, US Army (RET) who found his only true relief came after using these CD’s after his son committed suicide. Mr. Rauls initially thought Guided Imagery was “garbage,” (I should say “too soft”) until he added an introduction to Belleruth’s CD based on military drills that get a vets attention!
Read Up: This is a description of what I am recommending from the Health Journeys web site:
Even under the best of circumstances, reintegrating back into civilian life can be challenging for our returning warriors. Mind-Body Exercises for Self-Mastery is similar to our Stress Hardiness audio, but reworked at Fort Sill with a military-friendly introduction from David Rauls, 1SG, US Army (RET). It provides all-purpose training in focused self-calming techniques, including simple breath counting and phrase repetition, the uplifting imagery of Relaxation & Wellness, and the all-important Healthful Sleep imagery that provides a healthy way to get restorative sleep without drugs. There is also imagery to help Ease Grief, and one for Anger & Forgiveness; and we included Steve Kohn’s beautiful, soothing Music from Health Journeys for maintaining balance and focus at work or at home.
Finally if you for any reason do not get help from these CD’s after nightly use for three weeks, consider counseling with a certified EMDR counselor to reprocess your memories so they no longer intrude into your sleep cycle.