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Night Terrors, Body memories, Memory Flashbacks, Insomnia, and Nightmares. These plague survivors. They can range from disturbing dreams all the way to wake you up screaming. This is normal. We have lived in fight, flight, freeze, and fawn for so long that when we get to a place where we can actually find rest, our brains are busy trying to play catch up during deep REM sleep where we process memories. Sleep is a difficult topic for those of us leaving “The Life”. Our sleep patterns were altered in the first place and nighttime hours were our most busy. This week I'd like to take a moment and explore developing healthy sleep patterns and how you can combat Nightmares.

Developing a night/day routine is confusing in the first week or so. It's important to get your life schedule and sleep flipped back around. Try to turn off all media about an hour before bed. Set a goal of what time you'd like to realistically be in bed and try for sleep and stick with that set time. Try relaxing activities before your goal time like reading or self care. Keep a journal and pen beside your bed. (This will be important for the fighting nightmares section.) Try relaxing music or listen to a sleep app. Pray, do progressive muscle relaxation and try not to over focus on sleep, just let it come naturally. Just as important as getting to bed at the same time nightly is waking up at the same time each morning. Build a slow morning routine that you'll be excited to get out of bed for. Take your time getting ready in the morning. If you take your time with your morning routine it sets the mood for how your day will be. (I'm for real~ it really does!)

Now it's time for Nightmare talk. Nightmares will forever come and go. Even after years of being free and independent I still have nightmares but with a twist--I'm actually fighting back and they no longer hold power over me. When you wake from a particularly disturbing nightmare and in a panic, try to remain calm and look around at your surroundings. Recite where you are, what year it is, and tell yourself that you are safe. Then stop and think about the dream. More than likely it was a repressed memory, write it down! Writing down the nightmare will help you reconstruct your trauma time. After you've written down your nightmare, rewrite the ending. That's right, rewrite an ending where you are the victor or hero. Then get up and have some water or hot coco, but do not turn on harsh overhead lights. Use soft lighting when you can. After you've decompressed, get yourself ready for sleep again. Say your prayers as you're laying there trying for sleep and focus your thoughts on a story where you are the hero. This may take months or years, but this is the best piece of sleep advice I've ever recieved. It may not seem to be working at first, but keep trying. I promise you, you WILL get to a point where your nightmares no longer hold power over you and then just one night you'll have your first “normal” dream. I still remember my first “normal” dream, it was about a talking horse! It was amazing


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