I usually have no trouble sleeping. I have a solid night time routine that leads to amazing sleep. And I know what can disrupt that wonderful sleep, and try to avoid things like alcohol and late night sugar when I really need a good night’s sleep. But lately there seems to be something added to the list that could potentially keep me awake or impact my sleep – the news.
So many heartbreaking stories are coming out daily, it can be hard to get through the day much less fall asleep and get through the night. The senseless violence, the thoughts of how it could happen, why did it have to happen, the poor victims, families and loved ones can continue to play in your head when you are trying to catch some zzz’s.
Here are some great tips to help you sleep when the news is at its worst. We need everyone at their full strength and faculties if we are going to be there for those affected by these tragedies. Even if it is just to say a prayer, or comfort another, sleep is going to give you the energy to accomplish it.
Try one of these tonight and then use that new found energy for good.
How To Sleep When Horrific News Becomes The Norm
Here are seven self-care tips that can help you deal with worries and sleep better:
1. Talk about what’s bothering you
A big part of dealing with a tragedy is expressing your emotions, said Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist and author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good. “If you’re sad, allow yourself to cry. If you’re anxious and afraid, say ‘I’m anxious and afraid,’” he previously told HuffPost.
If you’re sad, allow yourself to cry. If you’re anxious and afraid, say ‘I’m anxious and afraid.’Steve Orma, clinical psychologist
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends that you talk to family and friends about how you’re feeling.
2. Do things that help you relax
Relaxation and meditation techniques help ease stress and can be especially helpful before bed, said Phyllis Zee, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
3. Don’t change your sleep routines
Losing sleep at night might make that snooze button more tempting. But picking up poor sleep habits just makes it harder for you to fall asleep at night, Orma said.
If you’re not a regular nap-taker, don’t start. Avoid sleeping in later than usual. And don’t suddenly start taking sleep medications because you may grow dependent on them, he said.
4. Turn off the news at night
Leave a news-free buffer of at least 30 to 45 minutes before you try to sleep to allow yourself to relax, Ong said. Limiting your exposure to media coverage of violence will help you relax and sleep better.
5. Practice good sleep hygiene
It might sound obvious, but it’s worth noting that the times that you’re more likely to have trouble sleeping are when it’s most important to do the things that are good for sleep, Zee said. Exercise during the day, but not too close to bedtime. Get some sun during the day, but avoid bright lighter later at night (which can make it harder for you to fall asleep and actually make you sleep worse).
6. Give yourself a break
You need to tell yourself it’s ok to have a few nights of poor sleep, Orma said. The more you beat yourself up for not sleeping well and the more upset you get about it, the more anxious you can become about not sleeping and fuel the sleepless cycle.
Talk to yourself like you were talking to your best friend or a child… in a very nurturing, supportive or positive way.Steve Orma, clinical psychologist
“Talk to yourself like you were talking to your best friend or a child. You would talk in a very nurturing, supportive or positive way,” Orma told HuffPost previously. “You wouldn’t freak them out.”
7. Get the help you need
If coping on your own or with your family members is not enough, talk to a psychologist or licensed medical health professional, recommends the American Psychological Association.
While there is no one timeline that fits everyone for how long it should take for a trauma to subside, the APA says you might benefit from seeking professional help if you feel overwhelmed by sadness or helplessness, if the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better after talking with family and friends or if you find it difficult to maintain your everyday routine.