When you’re a military wife, you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. And when your husband is deployed in a different time zone, it’s exceedingly difficult to keep up with him, the kids, and yourself. Sleep is often the first area we neglect to do it all. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, military wives suffer from extreme short duration of sleep, or less than five hours per night.
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for everyone, but for many, it can be frustratingly elusive, but here are some steps one can take to make better sleep a priority.
Start positive habits and let go of harmful ones
The first step to better sleep is to implement self-care strategies and to look to positive habits. For example, avoiding substances like nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can make a difference in sleep, as well as avoiding large meals too close to bedtime. If one can’t wean themselves of alcohol or nicotine, it can really help to implement a moderate exercise routine during the day. Exercise makes us more tired at night and helps to curb the desire to smoke or drink.
Yoga or gentle stretching before bed can help loosen the muscles and set the stage for relaxation. Try to reserve the time before bed for stretching instead of watching TV or looking at the phone can help the brain unwind.
Assess Your Routine and Bedroom
Creating a bedtime routine is a great way to give the body a hint that it’s time to start winding down and relax. Consistently waking up and going to bed at the same time every day is also beneficial. Keeping the room cool and dark will naturally help the body get into a sleep rhythm as well, though individual needs may vary. Room-darkening shades can also set the stage for a good night’s sleep, and white noise machines or a sleep meditation app can help get you into REM sleep. Consider improving the sound with a soundbar or speaker. Think of what makes you comfortable and consider how you could work them into your regular routine.
Cut back on the naps
If you aren’t getting sleep, it’s really tempting to take naps during the day- which then make it harder to fall asleep at night. We can power through all kinds of things as military wives, but when it comes to taking a nap it’s easy to give in. You don’t want to drink coffee later in the day and you don’t want to take a nap. So, what can you do? Take a walk, eat a piece of fruit, or try meditation. It may be harder to meditate when you’re sleepy, at first, but according to Headspace, meditation actually activates the mind and will generally make you more alert.
Be Prepared to Address a sleep disorder
If sleeplessness lasts, you may have anxiety over the absence of your spouse, or you may have a sleep disorder. It could be stress, yes, but DexaFit notes it could also be hormones or something more dangerous, such as sleep apnea. If, despite your best self-help efforts, you are still unable to wind down, don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor. Many understand fully the difficulties of being a military wife and know that compounding this with the devastating effects of sleep deprivation can be emotionally depleting. They may suggest anything from a sleep study to therapy.
Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep, especially the wives of our service members who are fighting a battle at home and have sacrificed more than most people know. By taking care of yourself, changing up your bedroom and building a bedtime routine, you can take matters into your own hands and start getting the rest you deserve.
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