This worksheet is intended for use by those who have experienced some form of trauma that impacts their ability to sleep, and it may also be a helpful resource for behavioral health professionals who work with such people. Using a chart, individuals are encouraged to identify any existing coping mechanisms that may negatively impact their ability to sleep and to think about ways to adapt these habits and activities to mitigate this impact. Reflecting on habits and practices encourages individuals to develop strategies for restful sleep that don’t exacerbate their symptoms or create new challenges for recovery.

Trauma can have long-lasting impacts on an individual’s ability to stay and fall asleep. Increased vigilance as a result of heightened physiological arousal can make it difficult to relax and enter rapid eye movement stages of sleep. Establishing relaxing routines meant to reduce the sympathetic nervous system response can help condition the body to prepare for sleep over time and make it easier to fall asleep. The example given in the table for a coping strategy that affects sleep is exercising late at night for stress relief often causes one to feel restless. Adapting this activity for restful sleep would entail exercising earlier in the day when the body isn’t preparing to sleep.

For more information, please see the presentation The Intersections of Chronic Pain, Serious Mental Illness, and Trauma on Sleep.

This resource was first shared in 2018.

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