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  • Writer's pictureDonna Hunter

The Connection Between Trauma and Sleep Difficulties


Man in bed sound asleep

Sleep – it's that elusive friend we all crave after a long day. But what happens when sleep becomes a battleground due to trauma? Is there anything you can do to get some relief? The answer is yes.


When Trauma Shadows Sleep


Trauma casts a long shadow that often stretches into our sleep cycles. Nightmares, night sweats, insomnia – these unwelcome bedfellows can be side effects of past trauma. How the brain responds to any trauma can disrupt sleep patterns. It makes it difficult to find that peaceful slumber.


The Brain in Overdrive


Trauma can put our brains into overdrive, triggering the fight-or-flight response even when we're tucked in bed. This hyper-arousal can lead to restlessness, constant scanning for threats, and difficulty relaxing enough to drift into sleep.


The Vicious Cycle


Sleep difficulties caused by trauma can create a vicious cycle. Disrupted sleep has one of the biggest negative impacts. It is one of the first things your therapist will ask about when someone continues to have difficulty addressing their symptoms. The lack of sleep makes it harder to cope with the day-to-day and the effects of past traumas. And as we struggle to cope, sleep becomes even more elusive.


The Silver Lining: Healing


Healing from trauma doesn't just brighten our days – it can lead to better nights. As we work through our trauma, the grip it has on our sleep can start to loosen. Therapy, mindfulness, a healthy diet, physical exercise, and relaxation techniques can help restore healthier sleep patterns.


Tips for Trauma-Informed Sleep


Create a Bedtime Routine: Establish calming rituals before bed to signal to your brain that it's time to wind down.


Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness or meditation to ease anxiety and create a relaxed mental space for sleep.


Limit Screen Time: Reduce exposure to screens before bed, as blue light can interfere with sleep.


Comfort Matters: Ensure your sleep environment is cozy and comfortable – a sanctuary for rest.


Professional Help: Please reach out for professional support. Therapists who specialize in trauma or sleep disorders can offer strategies tailored to your needs.


Embracing Restful Nights


Trauma can negatively affect sleep. It can be disruptive to many things like concentration, and the ability to deal with emotions. With the right tools and support, you can get the restful sleep you have been missing. Each night is an opportunity to heal and nurture yourself, one dream at a time.



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