As a veteran, you may experience nightmares upon returning home from combat. This is common when someone has experienced some sort of trauma; this does not necessarily mean physical trauma, but could also include the emotional and mental trauma of serving in combat, even when uninjured physically.
These nightmares, which may be part of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can be frustrating because you cannot always control them or overcome them. This can make you nervous to go to sleep for fear of what may happen, even when you have been avoiding flashbacks and negative thoughts in your daily life.
The key, then, is to learn how to handle these nightmares. Some of the tactics suggested by therapists include:
- If you wake up and can’t fall back asleep, get up and engage in a distracting activity, rather than lying in bed.
- Talk to your therapist about the nightmares. Don’t keep it to yourself.
- Focus on self-soothing and coping skills. You may not be able to avoid having a nightmare, but you can change how you react to it.
- Remember that nightmares can be part of healing. This process can take a long time, especially if your PTSD is connected to a brain injury or some other complication.
- Look for any triggers in your home or the place you sleep and remove them. It could be that your environment is bringing on the nightmares in some way.
If you suffer from a brain injury, severe PTSD and other such complications, it can impact your quality of life and ability to work, so you need to know what options you have.