Good Sleep Practices
*Getting to grips with possible causes so you can fix these
*Creating new patterns to promote better sleep
*Using other health techniques to help
*Supplements that help
There has been a lot of research into sleep problems, and there is a lot of information designed to help people create better sleep practices for themselves. However, the causes of sleep problems can be missed in many articles, and it is crucial to take a broader whole-body approach post-injury.
If you struggle with insomnia, you must see a sleep specialist.
Stopping the vicious circles
Taking a whole-body approach helps us to tackle many things at one time. We need to take as much care of and give as much attention to our general health as we do to using stategies aimed at improving our ability to manage our everyday lives better.
Many of the outcomes and symptoms can play a role in and effect, how well we sleep post-injury. If we can start to get to grips with other possible causes and begin to improve the impacts these have on us then it can be possible to re-establish more regular sleep patterns and falling to sleep can feel as natural as it once did.
In other words, post brain injury, in many ways, it is best not to isolate each outcome, but rather to do many things together. For example, you may find that getting to sleep is the most frustrating symptom you have, and therefore, you might want to prioritise this. The underlying cause could be anger, uncontrolled emotions, depression or a multitude of other things.
Whatever it is that we are trying to improve, it is best done at the same time as incorporating a plan for a healthier body and lifestyle. One of the main things we need to recognise is that the body post-injury can no longer manage without our full support.
We can no longer get away with many of the things we thought of as our ‘naughty treats.’ It is essential to bear in mind that much of our thinking in this regard doesn’t stem from our recognition of the things we enjoy, but has way more to do with behavioural conditioning. For example, how many of us would look at a packet of ‘x-brand’ cookies, read the ingredients label and then think – ‘this is going to be very healthy and nutritional.’
Before the days of mass-produced and heavily marketed processed products, people used to think it was a treat to eat an orange!
We have to tackle our attitudes just as much as anything else when it comes to remodelling sleep habits.
Speak to your doctor and get your vitamin D and B12 levels checked.
Consider if you are overtired
Sleep is especially important following a brain injury because this is the time in which memories are stored and is when the brain flushes out toxins that built up during the day. Sleep is restorative, so it is vital for healing.
Some people are aware that if they miss any sleep, they don’t feel right until those lost hours have been caught up with again.
Chronic sleep loss can interfere with the natural rhythms of the body and brain and sometimes catching up the hours that were lost can, on its own, restore natural patterns.
Being overtired can also cause insomnia and often a herbal sleep supplement will help people regain natural sleep patterns by inducing rest and more extended periods of sleep. It is worth taking a few days or more to see if this is the cause of your sleep problems. It is best to put a few days aside where you can sleep for as long as you need to without interruption to see if ‘catching-up’ helps to restore natural sleep.
Using a wider circle of habits to help
There are three critical things that everyone should start with, and we explain why under ‘Healing Your Brain.’ These are:-
Other things to change
Start with your bedroom:-
- Declutter, use ‘black-out’ blinds, make sure the room isn’t too warm or too cold
- Speak to your spouse about noise and lights. You need to agree that your sleep is vitally important. If you can’t reach amicable agreements, you may need to consider other changes, such as temporarily sleeping in separate rooms, or using a sleep mask and earplugs
- Don’t watch the tv in bed or use any other screens for two hours before sleeping
- Use guided meditations designed to help you sleep or soothing music
- Give some thought to using pure and natural essential oils
During the day:-
- Get out of bed, make your bed, don’t return to your bed
- Don’t use any stimulants at any time, including caffeine. This is different for people overcoming brain injury as stimulants cause further harm
- Don’t nap for more than 20 minutes – use an alarm
- Try to avoid naps by taking a 20-minute walk in the fresh air instead
- Listen to your body. While the nap rules are designed to induce regular sleep patterns, you may find that you really need the extra sleep to give your brain and body healing time
During the evening:-
- Don’t eat or drink for at least two hours before bed
- Don’t exercise strenuously during the evening
- Take a warm relaxing mineral salts bath, and use essential oils and candles
- Use the bathroom before getting into bed
- Take your time and do things slowly to induce calm and to help relax yourself
- Go to bed at the same time every night – including the weekends
- Set the alarm to awaken at the same time every morning but be mindful of listening to your body – don’t force yourself out of bed if you need more rest
You may find that you need more sleep than before your brain injury, which is normal. In time you will see the time you need to sleep for reducing.
NCBI – Traumatic brain injury and sleep disorders
NIH – How sleep clears the brain