This post is how I cope with not sleeping, I've struggled for three years with sleep, I've even tried hypnotherapy (In my case it helped more than it didn't help, but I still struggle to sleep).
For reference when I say 'SD' it means 'sperm donor' as I cannot stand using the term 'dad'. SD is what we call him daily.
I suffer from really bad nightmares, and that probably sounds silly, but every night when I close my eyes all that goes through my head is the abuse I went through... I get chased through a forest by SD, I keep running until I find myself in a large opening, at this point my mums 'family' circle me, enclosing me in with SD where he proceeds to hit me until I'm close to dying, on the final hit this is where I wake up, and this nightmare usually lasts about half an hour. I then lie there awake for a good 2 hours, I either cry or worry about things that I shouldn't worry about. With this happening I usually get around 3-4 hours sleep a night.
When I was in a worse state, I used to live off about half an hours sleep a night, then go to college or my hospital placements, I really struggled, I'd be even more... tender? snappy? but very easily upset, especially because we had to study about child abuse in lessons, it was hard for me, especially hearing peoples comments about it, how they didn't care and took the lessons for a joke, I felt almost disrespected and this usually resulted in tears. Over the 3 years I have grown used to my nightmares and they don't affect me as much, before when I wasn't used to them I could never get back to sleep, now I know I can go back off to sleep and not be too upset.
I have some tips for anyone who suffers from insomnia or nightmares thanks to the NHS...
1. Keep regular hours
2. Create a restful sleeping environment
3. Exercise regularly
4. Less caffeine
5. Don’t over-indulge
6. Don’t smoke
7. Try to relax before going to bed
8. Write away your worries
9. Don't worry in bed
Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better.
Choose a time when you're most likely to feel sleepy. For me this is around Half 1, although it's late I find myself feeling tired which makes it easier to sleep.
Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep. Keep it as quiet and dark as possible. It should be neither too hot nor too cold. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that the bedroom environment helps you to fall (and stay) asleep. Remember, your bedroom should be your sanctuary.
Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming or walking, can help to relieve some of the tension built up over the day. But don't do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as it may keep you awake. For me exercise is very regular and easy, I am in a running club and a proud gym membership owner, I exercise 4-5 times a week, usually an hour and a half a day, it relaxes my mind and keeps positive energy flowing!
Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee, especially in the evening. They interfere with the process of falling asleep, and they prevent deep sleep. The effects of caffeine can last a long time (up to 24 hours) so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant. Have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea instead.
Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.
Smoking is bad for sleep. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, they wake up more frequently, and they often have a more disrupted sleep.
Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.
Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day. If you tend to lie in bed thinking about tomorrow's tasks, set aside time before bedtime to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things when you're in bed, trying to sleep. I keep myself a diary, a log of when I wake up and whats on my mind, I then read it in the morning and see what has been bothering me.
If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then return to bed. I'm a massive worrier, I find it easier to walk about at night, read a book or watch one of my favourite TV shows.
I hope my readers find this helpful, I know getting insight on how to help me sleep worked for me, and Its nice to write down my worries.
Thank you all for reading!
Lots of love,