When you have experienced trauma it can really impact on your sleep: because your body is hyper vigilant to any threats, it has difficulty getting to a calm place where you can nod off to sleep. Some survivors also find that they have racing thoughts before going to bed which make getting to sleep difficult. For other people, being in a bed can be triggering because that is the place where the abuse took place. Sleep can also be disrupted by nightmares. Sleep is a really difficult issue for lots of survivors and different things help different people, but these are some ideas that have helped some of the young survivors at the Rosey Project. Be patient and gentle with yourself.
Some tips to help your sleep:
- Practice good sleep hygiene. This means cutting down on caffeine, limiting your screen time for the two hours before you go to bed, and only using your bed for sleeping in
- Try writing down your worries in a notebook or journal all of your worries before you go to bed to empty them out of your mind
- Trying a mindfulness or yoga exercise before bed to bring your body into a state where it is ready to sleep
- White noise apps or other background noise while sleeping
- Change things up in your bedroom to make it a space where you feel safe and that doesn’t remind you of sexual violence: move things around or redecorate as much as you can
- If you wake up with a nightmare, it can help to wake yourself up properly to allow your body to come back to a safe place. Get up, making a cup of tea, and read, draw or journal to ground yourself.
Illustration credit: https://lindsaybraman.com/sleep-hygiene-flowchart/