The brain can truly be like wild monkeys in the night. Here are some more things to try:
1. Focus on the present. You are ok right now, aren’t you? Even if you are about to be evicted from your home, they are unlikely to evict you in the middle of the night. Worrying in the middle of the night won’t help. Try saying to yourself,
“Right now I’m okay.” Or “At this moment I am safe.”
2. Focus on your breathing. Breathe slowly in and slowly out – using your stomach and your diaphragm. Literally picture the breath going up and down, or in and out – whatever picture works. Even though it’s not anatomically accurate, many people find it better to picture air going up and down from your belly to your nose and mouth. This picture can be relaxing and help you get back to sleep.
3. What are you telling yourself?
“I’m going to be a mess tomorrow.”
“I have to perform really well tomorrow and darn it I’m not getting sleep — again.” Do you see how these raise your anxiety?
Instead, say calming things: “If I rest my body, that will help me, too.”
Imagine yourself feeling safe in the arms of a loved one.
Imagine yourself in the light/care of a higher being or power.
Picture a safe place – a tree house, sitting fishing by a lake, a meadow, surfing – whatever makes you feel safe.
- Learn muscle relaxation. There is some research that learning muscle relaxation (http://www.coedu.usf.edu/zalaquett/Help_Screens/Relaxation.htm) and practicing it twice a day will improve your sleep.
5. Learn and practice meditation. There is good evidence that learning and practicing meditation will calm your body down, and help you sleep.
6. Sleep medication. You can talk to your health care provider about sleep medication. There is also a specific medication that helps many people with post-war nightmares. Murray Raskind, MD, a physician at the VA in Washington state, discovered that Prazosin (Minipress) can help service members with nightmares that are keeping them from sleeping.