It is very difficult to fall asleep during the war, but get some sleepI — even harder. Due to stress, explosions, constant air alarms, worries about yourself and loved ones, sleep not only worsens, it completely deteriorates. Volunteering, military service and service in territorial defense also do not allow relaxation. What to do if you can’t sleep?
Stress is the most common cause of insomnia — a condition where there are difficulties falling asleep or maintaining a long-term sleep. In a state of stress, a high level of adrenaline leads to the fact that even during sleep, the body does not rest, but continues to work actively. From this, a person wakes up even more tired. A vicious cycle occurs: stress causes insomnia, and insomnia increases stress. But the body needs to restore strength in spite of everything. That is why it is extremely important to sleep regularly and at least seven hours a day, at least in fragments. How to do it?
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How to fall asleep when the war is outside the window?
We have collected advice from the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, psychologists and psychiatrists on how to fall asleep quickly despite anxiety and stress.
Falling asleep under frequent sirens, explosions and shelling is very difficult. In addition, it is scary to sleep through the air alarm. But you can improve your sleep!
1. Adequately assess the situation
If you force yourself to stay awake because you are afraid of missing some danger, consider that the war may last a long time, and the nervous exhaustion from lack of sleep will not help you.
2. Forget about the news for a while
Before going to bed, do not read the news on the Internet, do not watch TV. Bad news will alarm you and only harm you if you cannot influence anything. In wartime, everyone wants to be up-to-date on the latest events, but this is definitely not good for sleep.
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3. If you can’t fall asleep, rest
If you can’t fall asleep, don’t pick up your phone or do other things. Lie down with your eyes closed and try to relax. Such rest will help the brain to relax a little.
4. Drink sedatives
It is advisable to consult a doctor before doing so. It is safest to take plant-based sedatives, tinctures of valerian, peony or mint. Do not exceed the dosage indicated in the instructions!
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5. Provide yourself with maximum sound insulation
You can put headphones in your ears, cover your head with a blanket or a hood — you need to drown out the surrounding sounds as much as possible.
6. Take turns sleeping with loved ones
If you live in a dangerous region and are afraid to sleep through the air alarm, try taking turns sleeping with your loved ones. Then someone will definitely warn others about the danger.
7. More hugs!
Hug a loved one, a child, a toy or a pillow in a dream. Tactile contact will help to calm down and relieve a little stress.
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6 effective ways to fall asleep during military operations
Psychologists, psychiatrists and sports rehabilitation specialists have long studied the ability of a person to sleep under conditions of stress and mental overload. Science has not invented anything extraordinary, but the advice of medical experts should be used.
Doctor of Medical Sciences, American psychiatrist Jared Hitman advises not to forget about the good old way to fall asleep — reading a book before going to bed. But here there are several conditions that are important to follow in order for everything to work.
- First, it should be a paper book (reading an e‑book in bed may not give the desired result).
- Secondly, the book should have pleasant content that soothes and fills with pleasant thoughts and emotions. That is, it is better not to read business literature, horrors or dramas.
Dr. Heathman also says that books that promote anticipation and excitement can encourage you to keep reading. Instead, he recommends excerpts from motivational or spiritual literature with short chapters. Such a format can always be postponed when you feel that you have almost fallen into the arms of Morpheus.
To-do list for tomorrow
Psychologists believe that making a to-do list right before bed can help you fall asleep. In a special psychological study, people were offered a choice of writing for five minutes before going to sleep either about what they needed to do in the coming days (to-do lists) or about the tasks they had completed in the previous few days. The group that made to-do lists for the next day fell asleep faster than those who made a to-do list.
But in order for it to work, there is one important condition — it cannot be reread and improved a hundred times. You record things on paper in order not to scroll through them again and again in your head. This gives you peace of mind, as you have assured yourself that you will definitely not forget anything important.
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A study conducted with 305 participants (all of them were over 40 years old and had problems sleeping) proved that physical activity has a positive effect on the quality of sleep and falling asleep. The need for sleeping pills, which were taken by some of the participants, also decreased.
But you should not postpone all exercises for the evening. Exercising or working too late and too hard will cause an adrenaline rush.
Psychologist Olga Kabitska advises to try the complete relaxation technique. It should be started with the chewing muscles of the face — one of the strongest in the human body, but those that are exposed to stress. Having relaxed them, we relax the mimic muscles: exhale several times with the jaw as if hanging down, lowering it and opening the mouth.
When the muscles of the head have been relaxed, it’s time to relax the whole body. The technique of “square” breathing or the method called “1 to 2” will help you here. In this way, we slow down the heart rate, stabilize the pressure and calm down.
Breathing by the “square” means inhaling for four seconds. Here’s how it’s done:
- count to four and in the meantime inhale through the nose;
- we count 1, 2, 3, 4 and at this time we do not breathe, keeping air in our lungs;
- exhale through the mouth again to the count of 4, at the same time, by the way, relaxing our chewing muscles;
- then we do not breathe without air, counting to four.
The 1 to 2 method is to inhale for a count of four, then hold your breath for the same amount of time and exhale for a count of eight.
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There is also a special “thought clearing” technique that helps you fall asleep within 2–5 minutes. It was first described by the American coach Bud Winter in the book “Relax and Win” in 1981.
The author advises to clear thoughts using one of three images:
- you are lying in a boat on a calm lake and there is only a clear sky above you;
- you lie in a black velvet hammock in a dark room;
- you lie and repeat to yourself: “Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.”
Despite its simplicity, this technique works in most cases. If you can’t imagine specific images, you should try praying, meditating or simply dreaming about a happy future that will surely come after the war.
And how do you manage to fall asleep when you feel stressed?