When Your Sleep Betrays You
As a busy mom of 2, there are very few things I look forward to more than sleep.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that if you ask any parent, they'll tell you the same thing. They'll tell you that sleep is the greatest commodity!
So what do you do when sleep betrays the person you share a bed with?
Let me paint a picture of words if you are lucky enough to not know what I'm talking about.
It's been a long day. Kids are busy. Demands roll in from work. He probably didn't get that down time that is so crucial to his mental and emotional well being. He spends the evening slightly agitated. Dinner is fine. Evening is fine. You feel like you were able to end the day on an "ok" note.
Finally you both get to crawl into bed, maybe watch some tv, and fall asleep pretty easily. Ahhhhhh. You both drift into a peaceful slumber for 30 mins. Maybe 2 hours. Maybe 4.
But then it starts. His breathing increases. His arms or legs start to twitch and he's sweating. The mumbling happens.
But it doesn't have to get to the mumbling for you to know what's going on. Your body, and maybe even your subconscious, have becomes trained to wake you up when the breathing starts. You instantly hear and feel it change.
You start to rub his arm gently, not wanting to startle him further. You start gently saying his name, ever so softly, so he can start to differentiate the sound of YOUR voice saying his name versus the dream saying his name.
And then he wakes up. And he looks at you. And it breaks your heart a little bit.
Relief. Fear. Sadness. It's all there in his eyes.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...NIGHTMARES SUCK.
I feel like they are one of THE MOST debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Your sleep is supposed to be your calm. Your solace. Your recharge. And a nightmare can strip all of that away.
The first thing I do after I wake him up is press my hand firmly onto his chest and remind him to focus only on his breathing. I use a soft tone and remind him that I'm here, remind him of where he is, and assure him that he is safe. Sometimes...sometimes, he'll fall back asleep. But other times, it has eliminated any chance of a good night sleep.
Most people who have an interrupted sleep are usually a little cranky and irritable. But for someone living with PTSD, interrupted sleep can make the whole next day a write off.
I started keeping track of the nightmares. I just started a note in my phone, write down the date and if anything significant happened that day that could have helped prompt the nightmare.
Some people swear by taking different sleep aids or remedies but my husband doesn't even like taking Tylenol for a headache.
We're constantly learning. Evolving. Figuring things out. We're really lucky that the nightmares have really started to be few and far between.
For those of you reading who can relate to this experience, I'm so sorry. I see you. And I know your struggle.
Be kind to each other,