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Surviving trauma and anxiety: how to feel safe at night
by TeenHelp September 30th 2020, 09:07 PM

Surviving trauma and anxiety: how to feel safe at night
By Cassie (cynefin)

The darkness of nighttime brings a sense of uncertainty and anxiety with it. The world seems like a completely different place under the little bit of moonlight. Experiencing a trauma or having anxiety can sometimes make nighttime a little more challenging. Struggles at night can be prominent or frightening for anyone, regardless of whether they've experienced a trauma. Here are a few things to incorporate into your life if you're struggling with coping at night.

The uncertainty that is often felt can be reduced or sometimes eliminated by making (and consistently following) a nighttime routine. Brushing your teeth, taking your medications and changing into something more comfortable can all make up a routine. Other activities might include listening to meditative sounds, writing in a gratitude journal, and taking deep breaths. If you have varying nighttime schedules (e.g. work or school) make several routines that are dependent upon your obligations. This can give you the feeling of control, since you have created the routine and you know what is to come next.

One activity you can incorporate into your routine is aromatherapy. Burn a nice candle for a while, or choose a calming scented lotion and put it on your hands before trying to sleep. Doing this regularly can influence you to associate the specific scent with drifting off to sleep.

Using various distraction techniques prior to laying down can be beneficial. Do you like a certain nighttime show, or do you enjoy reading as a way to wrap up your day? Maybe you want to message your friends, or take a soothing shower. Try to stay away from anything that makes you anxious such as crime shows or books.

Sometimes, leaving on a light or the TV can make a lot of difference in quality of sleep. Some people find comfort in the light background noise, while others do not prefer it. Experiment and see what works for you. If you're nervous about leaving things on, use a timer for your lights or for the TV. Doing this will ensure that everything will shut off sometime after you fall off to sleep. On the other hand, if you would rather have quiet, try using ear plugs and an eye mask to block out anything that might stimulate your senses.

Consider investing in a weighted blanket or lap pad. These weighted items use deep pressure therapy (DPT) to provide comfort and a sense of security to people. Weighted blankets are a big investment, but can be very beneficial in the long run. If you can't purchase a large blanket (or if you just want to try it out) purchase a lap pad, also sometimes known as a child's weighted blanket. In addition to this, you can try a weighted stuffed animal or a weighted neck wrap to see if there is a positive change.

Prior to laying down, consider what makes you feel secure. Maybe you need to make sure your doors are locked and your blinds are closed. If doing this becomes obsessive, however, you may need to see a professional to assist you with this. You can also organize your bedroom and incorporate items that make your room feel like a safe and calming place. Using a blanket, such as a weighted one or a regular one might help give you a physical sense of security. Stuffed animals can serve the same purpose.

If you have been laying down for a while and cannot sleep, try getting up for a little bit. For some, forcing sleep can cause more anxiety and stress over needing to sleep but being unable to. Perhaps you need to distract yourself a little longer or completely tire yourself out before you can fall asleep. Do another activity for ten to fifteen minutes, and then try again.

Feeling unsafe at night is an unfortunate and scary feeling to experience. In time, you may be able to reduce these negative feelings by trying a variety of calming activities prior to going to sleep. Keep trying new ideas so you can find your favorite things to do before bed.
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anxiety, feel, night, safe, surviving, trauma

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