Get Your Sleep Back on Track
Are you not getting the restful sleep you need to conquer your day? Among Service members, sleep problems (think: sleep quantity and quality, insomnia and sleep apnea) are common.
What causes sleep problems?
There are multiple reasons that Service members may not be sleeping well:
- Poor sleep hygiene. Behaviors like consuming too much caffeine, drinking alcohol, using a stimulant like tobacco or nicotine and irregular schedules can impact your sleep.
- Prescription drugs from your health care provider may have side effects and interfere with falling asleep, staying asleep and/or your sleep cycle.
- Stress about your job, career, health or relationships.
- Psychological health concerns that are not being addressed for fear that it would negatively affect your career.
- Acute or chronic pain that keeps you up.
Lack of sleep has been linked to negative physical and psychological health such as increased risk of physical injury, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. The good news is there are strategies you can use to improve your sleep!
Try these strategies to improve your sleep:
- Talk to your health care provider if you’re having trouble sleeping. They can assess if sleep medications or other options (such as a sleep evaluation) are right for you. They might also refer you to a psychological health professional if needed.
- Try stress management techniques. Meditation and other stress relief activities can help ease you into sleep and are even helpful for psychological health concerns and chronic pain.
- Create a routine before bed. If possible, take five minutes to read, write down things you’re grateful for or listen to calming noises.
- Boost your exercise routine. See where you can adjust and enhance your workout to tire yourself out a little more.
- Clean up your diet. Try limiting junk food and caffeinated beverages before you go to sleep to keep your sleep patterns on track and (bonus!) fight weight gain.
- Talk to someone. When life’s stresses are on your mind (like relationship problems or career transitions) consider talking confidentially to your local chaplain or reach out to the Military and Family Life Counseling Program. Remember that it is always okay to ask for help!
Left untreated, sleep problems may continue or worsen. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your health care provider about the best plan of action.