How to Get Better Sleep as a Veteran
One of the most common issues that veterans face in day-to-day life is sleep deprivation. While the CDC recommends that adults get seven or more hours of sleep each night, studies indicate many former military members are getting six hours or less. This can lead to several issues, such as poor productivity, reduced mental and physical performance, susceptibility to disease, and even earlier death.
If you are a veteran who is looking to improve your sleep and receive all the benefits that come with it, consider these practical tips:
Invest in a good mattress.
The quality of your mattress has a lot to do with the quality of your sleep. If you’re waking up with back or neck pain, you toss and turn trying to get comfortable throughout the night, or your mattress is noisy, lumpy, or is beyond 8 years old, consider getting a new one. Since there are so many types of mattresses on the market, it’s important to narrow your search by considering a few factors. For example, should you move a size up? If a queen feels too crowded for you and your partner, a king-sized bed could do wonders for your sleep. Also, what positions do you normally sleep in, and do you prefer a firmer or softer mattress? Sort through the information out there, make comparisons, and find something that will keep you comfortable throughout the night.
Optimize your sleep environment.
Turning your bedroom into a sleep haven is also important. Keep the temperature between 60 and 68 degrees at night and keep it dark from bedtime until you wake up. Blackout shades can go a long way in keeping your bedroom dark, and these days they come in a wide variety of fabrics and styles. You can please your sense of style while upgrading your sleep environment. Also, make sure your bedroom and the surrounding areas of the home are quiet. If it’s difficult for you to sleep in complete silence, consider getting a sound machine. There are options that produce everything from soothing hums, soft music, to nature sounds. Some will even help you gently awaken in the morning. You should also take care to make your home as relaxing and tension-free as possible. Start by cleaning and decluttering your home. Tossing out old items will put you in a more positive frame of mind, which can reduce stress which can help you sleep better.
Establish a steady sleep and wake schedule.
As a former service member, you know all about routine and discipline. Applying those practices to your sleep schedule can help you get into a healthy rhythm. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends. On Health explains that establishing consistency for your biological body clock will help you to fall asleep and stay asleep on a nightly basis.
Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake.
Caffeine can stay in your system for hours and impede your ability to fall asleep. Avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks after lunchtime. It can also help to moderate alcoholic beverages in the evenings. While alcohol might help you fall asleep, it is known to disrupt sleep throughout the night.
Try forest therapy.
Spending time outdoors comes with a plethora of benefits for your health and well-being. Forest therapy provides the opportunity to experience those benefits while enjoying the beauty of nature. Even a single forest therapy outing can reduce your stress levels and quiet your mind for better sleep but making it part of your self-care regimen can be particularly effective and healing. It’s very common for veterans to struggle with getting enough sleep, so know that you’re not alone if that’s your situation. Make sure you have a good mattress and take steps to turn your bedroom into a sleep haven. Establish a healthy routine and moderate your caffeine and alcohol intake. You might find that implementing these tips is all it takes to get the good night’s rest that you need and deserve.