Experienced Trauma? Do This First.
This year has been filled with traumas- hasn’t it? Seems like there is another trauma around every corner.
Trauma can disrupt life—leaving you sleepless, anxious, and unable to focus.
It’s true for one-time experiences (like escaping from a wildfire) or everyday experiences.
If you’ve experienced past or current trauma, I would never claim to solve everything in one email or blog post. Recovery takes time and can require support from many angles.
✨ But the beautiful thing is that even small steps can move you in the direction of healing ✨
That’s why I want to share some encouraging research that was just released from Washington State University about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the benefit of sleep on memory and behavior. Here was the big takeaway:
👍 Increasing the amount of time spent asleep immediately after a traumatic experience may ease some of the negative consequences of trauma 👍
Basically, sleeping more after trauma improves memory and behavior. It’s also helpful to know…
It may be that the most important time to sleep is immediately after a traumatic experience (but we don’t know for sure what the critical window of time might be)
The benefits of sleep may partly come from periods of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
Some medications (like SSRI antidepressants) suppress REM sleep
Sleep is a time of healing and recovery. If you have a particularly stressful job or other stressful situations in your life, sleep becomes even more important for your health.
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your sleep that do not require medications. You can make changes to your evening routine and bedroom atmosphere or look closely at the foods and drinks you’re consuming at night. Stop eating heavy carbs 5 hours before you turn out the lights and 3 hours before bed for any food at all. Eat foods rich in magnesium and B6 to support sleep. Shut off your devices at least 1 hour before bedtime. Really. Meditation and mindfulness practice are also extremely advantageous. Don’t forget to catch morning rays. Natural light exposure helps reset your biological clock and balance cortisol and melatonin levels. There’s lots more you can add to this list to help.
Plus...some people benefit from gentle herbs or supplements to support better sleep.
Tart cherry juice is filled with melatonin which is a great choice for sleep. Take magnesium supplements before bed. I recommend magnesium glycinate as it does not cause increase in bowel activity. Start with 200mg.and you can move up from there. Passion flower and valerian with magnesium is a lovely sleep combination
If you know you need to sleep more soundly for your health but just don’t know how to make that happen, or to find out about these products and suggestions, I am here to help! Drop me a message to find out how.
Christopher J. Davis, William M. Vanderheyden. Optogenetic sleep enhancement improves fear-associated memory processing following trauma exposure in rats. Scientific Reports. 2020; 10 (1).