Insomnia absolutely sucks.
And I’m not talking about the movie, either.
I’m talking about insomnia that eats you alive, causing you to lose hours, days, and months of sleep.
I’ve dealt with it for decades but have also done many things the wrong way.
Some of you vets are dealing with the same issue, and I feel your pain.
Along with depression and anxiety comes the inability to get a good night’s rest.
The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.
Not Michael Jackson kind, but the kind that lets you know that we veterans are in this together.
I’ve been out of the military for over a decade now, and only now am I figuring out a lot of this insomnia stuff.
So before you go losing your mind like I have, here are some things that I do to help combat insomnia.
1. Fix Your Sleep Pattern
People like myself have the worst sleep patterns ever.
We think it’s not by choice, but I beg to differ.
There are quite a number of things you can do to help with your insomnia, and a lot of it has to do with your sleep pattern.
For me, the biggest problem I had was sleeping late and still waking up early.
Some of you might have the same problem, but that does not mean you can’t adjust your sleep schedule.
If you sleep at 10 PM or later, don’t do it anymore.
Try to get in bed earlier and reset your body clock.
If you have a job that doesn’t work well with that schedule, try to at least be consistent with the time you go to sleep.
2. Skip Naps
Naps seem to be the only way for you to catch up on lost sleep, but it doesn’t help.
You are only allowing yourself to have a harder time sleeping when it’s time to sleep.
If you’re tired during the day and you feel it’s time to take a nap, don’t do it.
Make yourself more tired and save it for when it’s time to sleep at night.
Put this together with the first tip, and you will be that much closer to getting a better night’s rest.
3. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol and grunts go well together.
That’s not true, and it is something you want to fix if you’re really trying to combat insomnia.
Sure, it’s fun, and you might think that it helps with your sleep, but it really doesn’t.
I don’t say to cut it out completely because I don’t think it’s necessary, but at least try to cut back.
If you can quit, then more power to you.
I find that drinking once every two weeks works great as it helps tire me out more when I don’t do it as much.
4. Drink Coffee Early in the Day
Some of you might not drink coffee, and that’s great for you.
Now, for those of you who drink coffee like I do, make sure you’re not doing it in the afternoon or right before you go to bed.
Some people might say that it helps them fall asleep better, but that’s about all it does.
Once it hits midnight, you will be one heck of a zombie that can’t go back to sleep.
Then you’ll get tired when the sun comes up, and you are back to a messed up sleep schedule and zero steps closer to beating insomnia.
5. Quit Smoking
It’s like most of my buddies in the Infantry smoked.
I did it before I joined the military, but I did it even more when I was with my crazy Army buddies.
The same nasty habit continued when I got out, and it didn’t help with my insomnia problem.
For one, the nicotine would keep me awake, and I can feel it in my blog.
Secondly, I would get up to smoke a cigarette after a couple of hours of tossing and turning.
Not only was I using it as an excuse to get out of bed, but it didn’t help when I went back in to try to sleep.
I mean, smoking absolutely stinks, and it is one habit that you want to break just for that reason alone.
It will help you sleep better when you don’t have the excuse to get up, along with the nicotine running through your body.
6. Change Your Lifestyle
A big part of a grunt’s lifestyle is drinking and, well, being around others who do the same.
Did you know that there are other people that exist?
Well, there is, and I didn’t figure this out until I decided to try and fix myself.
Instead of thinking everyone is stupid and should live like us, try to blend in.
Become a civilian again.
That’s what we need to do when we come back from a deployment, or you will encounter many problems.
Back to the whole lifestyle thing.
I once partied my life away, and it led to sleepless nights and one jacked-up head.
Once I decided to be a real father and cut out the young idiot lifestyle, I could see a huge improvement in my insomnia.
If you are doing something like I did, now would be a great time to change that.
7. Do Not Eat Right Before Bed
Eating before bed is not going to help you one bit.
You will only allow another part of your body to work, and that will keep your brain up as well.
Now if your body has a reaction to certain foods, you definitely want to eat a couple of hours before you hit the sack.
This also includes midnight snacks and whatnot, so don’t eat when you are trying to sleep.
8. Exercise Properly
I don’t mean to keep my back straight when doing pushups, but I do know when to do it.
When I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep after a night of drinking, I would slap my running shoes on and go for a run.
Sometimes, this was at 11 pm, and sometimes, it was at 3 am, depending on when I was done drinking.
Don’t do that.
You want to exercise regularly for overall health, but it does play a part in your mental health as well.
It helps with sleep, and it is also a great way to get your body tired.
9. Adjust Your Sleeping Environment
I kind of left this one for the end of the article because it is ALMOST a no-brainer.
Sometimes, knowing what to do is not the case, and that is why this still needs to be addressed.
Maybe you think you sleep better in a super cold environment or the opposite.
Maybe you can’t afford to replace your AC?
There are several reasons as to why you can’t make the proper adjustment, but you might want to make it happen.
There is a lot of help out there, and you can check out some of them below.
And if they don’t provide such a service, I’m 100% sure that they will be able to point you in the right direction.
I have personally tried using Westcare, so I know they are a great service.
They will help with a lot of stuff, so check them out.
10. Make Changes
I couldn’t figure out whether or not I should split these topics up or put them into one, But I made a decision to cover them all.
As a person with insomnia, we tend to get into a routine.
We work, go drink, and then try to sleep.
Don’t do that.
Find something better to do with your time.
Pick up a hobby of some sort, or get a bike and explore your town like I did.
Try to do something different than you are already doing, as we can see that it does not work.
Break routines, get out of your comfort zone, and your body will have no choice but to adjust.
11. Give the VA a Chance
As a veteran, I could not stand dealing with people.
Going to the VA was something I never considered, and it took me forever before I was able to actually talk to them.
They are there for a reason, and you should utilize the services they provide.
What I don’t recommend is taking any of the pills they prescribe, as they will not help you in the long run.
I am no doctor, but you always want to try and fix things the natural way before you resort to any kind of prescription.
VA doctors are quick to prescribe, so just pick and choose what you feel is right for you.
The VA offers a lot of great services, so use them to your advantage, but at the same time, use good judgment.