Having trouble sleeping at night? VAntage Point reader offers tips on getting a better night’s rest


shadow

Many Veterans have trouble sleeping. This is well-known or expected by just about anybody, especially the Veterans who are suffering from it. According to a survey by Vetadvisor with over 2,000 voluntary participants, 76 percent said they didn’t sleep well and 91 percent said they feel tired all the time.

The average sleep time for all the Veterans was only 5.6 hours. Seventy-four percent met criteria for having insomnia, where they can’t fall asleep or stay asleep for three or more nights a week. The study also reported that almost 30 percent of the Veterans never have brought the problem up to the VA office or when they have seen their doctor.

Those are some big numbers. It is assumed that most Veterans believe that it is “just normal” since they served in the military and have seen some stressful things. While Veterans are more susceptible to having sleep issues, it is not “just normal.” If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, then you should definitely stop believing the “just normal” statement and start believing that it can be managed or even cured.

There are some great natural tips that can help you sleep better, including a lot of the tips the VA advises.  If not, you may want to check those out. Of course like a lot of things in life, some things can be a lot simpler than we make it out be.

Then of course, some things are not so easy. If you have tried many of those tips to get better sleep to no avail then let’s talk about few things that you may not have tried.

Drinks

First, alcohol does not help you STAY asleep. It only helps you GO to sleep. Research also shows that alcohol messes up your sleep cycles, so you will more than likely still feel tired the next day even if you think you were out like a light the night before.

You may know that certain drinks like milk can help you get sleepy or sleep better.  Milk has tryptophan, which is thought to help you relax.There are some other drinks that you probably haven’t tried that have natural ingredients proven to help sleep such as melatonin, serotonin, chamomile and lavender. These drinks include:

  • Tart Cherry Juice
  • Decaffeinated Green Tea
  • Lemon Balm Tea
  • Neuro Sleep Drink
  • Harney & Sons Yellow & Blue Tea
  • The Republic of Tea “Get Some ZZZ’s”
  • Ovaltine Malt
  • Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea
Devices/Gadgets

Believe it or not, there are devices besides the radio or a noise maker that can help you sleep. Actually, there are some very new and technologically advanced devices that you may not have heard of.

  • Fisher Wallace Stimulator  – FDA approved. A headband that sends signals to your brain to produce more serotonin.
  • Rythym Dreem – Comes out this year. Detects when you are in deep sleep and sends signals/sounds to keep you there so you can sleep longer.
  • Sleep Cogni  – Has reportedly helped 50 percent of people it was tried on to fall asleep faster.
  • Sleep Shepherd  – monitors your brainwaves and detects if they speed up during the night.
Doctor/Psychiatrist

This is pretty self-explanatory. Just tell somebody that can help you. If everything you have read about, seen or heard does not work, then you need to go see your doctor or a psychiatrist.

You are not crazy for going to see a psychiatrist. Sleep has a LOT to do with psychological issues with stress being the lead one like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Stress is what causes so, so many people to not get the rest they need. They either can’t wind down to fall asleep or their brain is active while they are asleep which results in them waking up.

Sleep is far more important than you may realize and it is not worth having restless nights in your bed to have to pay for them later. Lack of sleep is proven to cause all sorts of health problems so if you think you have problems now; you may have a lot more later. Go see somebody who can help or direct you in the right direction.


About the author: Aaron Stevenson is a public educator, health freak, and founder of Snooze EZ, A source for many sleep related topics.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. RICHARD GOODMAN    

    Service Connected RVN Vet. I am diagnosed with sleep apnea and have used the CPAP for approx. 6yrs. Sleep continues to be interrupted and I awake exhausted. I sleep in a recliner , and this seems to help. I do not take nor do I want to take drugs.
    I intend to bring the issue up with my Green team MD in June.
    VA System Jacksonville fl

  2. Francis B. Roubique    

    I am a Vietnam Vet with a 100% PTSD Service Connected Disability .I also have COPD which the VA also treats along with allergies and other problems. My Psychiatrist that I have been seeing for about 5 yrs.
    left the VA and My new Psychiatrist is refusing to continue My current Medication for Anxiety and sleep because of My COPD. I am doing the best I have done in the past 45-50 Yrs. I have been taking this Medication (Xanax ) for about 15 -20 Yrs . in larger doses but have reduced it from 4mg per day to 1mg per day at bedtime. My lung Dr. says taking Me off this medication would cause My anxiety and lack of sleep to be more harmful to Me than the 1mg Xanax. In the past two months
    I have tried two other Medications ( at a Psychiatrist suggestion) to replace the Xanax and I was unable to relax and sleep on both of them and had some very terrible nights and days. Last Yr. I was hospitalized twice for three days at a time and was not given Xanax and that caused me to have insomnia for over two months and My wife did not think I was going to live. After getting back on it everything went great and as I said I am in the best shape I have been in since I started treatment with the VA. Now they won’t me off of it ,Why .

  3. Pat Jahnke    

    Why is the TBI clinic only for gulf wars veterans???? I sure been many head injury years pass ,it only for your wars veterans only other veterans can not get proper care or help I got my copy of the MRI report va student doctor told me old age, but in report they found I just o left side of head, were I got hit left side of head 1977 , this was found by outside doctor I feel va doctor are still cover up where vets need help but can’t get it do to clinic only for gulf war injuries, their even new technology for headache,. No meds , it cuts meds while vets used it it’s call CEFALY, the study south Caroline v a apr of this yr . But doctors refused check into it give meds instead,. Why, kick back from the drug companies to the va ever time give a drug to a vet,. This item cost 275 and no drugs are given to stop headache with nasty side effect. Item has no side effect, cut vet use of meds in time, but refused give out any kinda narcotics drug, for needed vets if va study approved it work now closed door for other veterans,$$$$$ kick back from drug companies come first I guess

  4. R C    

    It took me more than 25 year to again go back to the VA to ask for help with my sleeping problem. I cried the entire appointment again, like I did in the late 1970’s or 80’s, it was just as hard for me now as it was then. So I break down and tell them everything of how I stay up all night and how I can’t sleep and when I do, I sleep in a comma where I don’t hear anything around me, alarms, people walking around me etc. ..shouldn’t common sense tell the clinician to schedule my next follow up appointment in the afternoon NOT at 8:30 am? Again, 25 years later my voice and concerns still were not heard!

  5. Former Spec 5    

    Yeah and all the VA has done to us vets with this particular problem is have the MH people lecture you about the dangers of drinking and taking lorazapam and cutting you off of the only thing that’s worked to get you the needed sleep.
    EVEN Though you have explained that the only time you have three or four beers is DURING THE DAY and not at night and NEVER mix the two……..not ever !……..not once!
    I understand some people may have a problem with this but I also understand that some people have problems with smoking and/or ice cream and/or candy
    If I’ve never had a problem with my meds then why punish the entire group because of the few ??
    sounds like just another way to give our earned benefits to undocumented workers and undocumented terrorist’s
    Either way it sucks for me and most of the vets I’ve talked to.

Comments are closed.