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Tips for Veterans on Better Sleep & Improved Health
By Rhonda Underhill

Good sleep can often feel like a luxury meant for other people when you’re living with mental or physical health concerns, and many veterans have trouble finding ways around it. When you’re coping with anxiety, PTSD, depression, or physical health conditions that make comfort a distant memory, getting good rest can be an increasingly frustrating endeavor. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

With a few lifestyle changes or alterations to your sleep environment, you can find the comfort and rest you need in order to feel better overall. Here are a few ways you can make better sleep more attainable, courtesy of The American Legion Chief Pontiac Post 377.

Take a Look at Your Bedding
The mattress is a major aspect of your sleep environment and, as such, must be considered carefully when you’re thinking of ways to improve your sleep habits. If you have a significant other and are sleeping in a full or queen sized-bed, consider moving up to a king-size option so you’ll have more room to get comfortable. 

Another way to improve your sleeping comfort is to add specialized pillows. As Spine-Health explains, you can use different pillows to support your body while you sleep, boosting your comfort and thereby improving your sleep quality. By alleviating pressure points and aligning your body better, you can sleep more comfortably and reduce aches and pains in your waking hours.

Adjust the Atmosphere
You might think a comfortable place to rest is all you need in a bedroom, but the overall environment can be a major player in how well you sleep. To begin with, the room should be dark, cool and quiet; if you are bothered by outside noises, consider adding a white noise machine to drown them out. Another option is listening to some relaxing music or calming sounds to help you fall asleep. The latest wireless headphones provide a customizable fit that helps with noise reduction.

Also, you should make it a point to address negative vibes in your living space that could be disrupting your sleep. Clutter, bad attitudes and even stale air can weigh you down, leading to stress, anxiety and other health concerns. Beyond decluttering your home of unnecessary “stuff,” make it a point to do a deep clean, and open your doors and windows for some fresh air.

Create a Bedtime Routine
Whether you need to unwind after a long and busy day or just want to learn how to relax and prepare your body and mind for bed, it’s important to create a routine that will allow you to set the previous hours aside.  Focusing on your breathing during a mindful moment can help, but you can also think about the best physical ways to make changes, such as putting away all screens, reading quietly, or taking a hot shower. When you get into the habit of doing these things each night at the same time, it can help you prepare yourself for a restful evening much more easily.

Get Some Exercise
Working out on a daily basis is not just great for your body; the American Council on Exercise notes it can also boost your mood and help decrease the symptoms of depression or anxiety, especially if you’re active outdoors. Spending time outside is well known to help people with mental health issues feel better, and as Zenbusiness details, getting extra vitamin D from sunlight can improve both mental and physical health. Outdoor time can also contribute to a better night of sleep. You don’t have to make any major changes to your routine; simply take the dog for a brisk walk in the morning or play a game of catch with the kiddos after dinner. 

Talk to Someone
Mental health issues like anxiety or PTSD could contribute to poor sleep. Talking to someone who understands can truly help, so consider looking for a counselor, chaplain, therapist, or a support group where you can vent and find others who get what you’ve been through. Being able to speak your mind and socialize can help you feel lighter so that when you’re ready for sleep, you relax and rest easier.

The way we sleep can affect everything from our ability to function during the day to our physical health, so it’s essential to find ways to make better rest a priority. Fortunately, it can be done by making some small changes that won’t interfere too much with your daily life. If you have a partner, talk to them about your decisions so they can help you with the process.

"Rhonda Underhill is a classic example of a health scare leading to a complete lifestyle change. She hopes her site,, can encourage adults approaching their golden years to get serious about their physical health now rather than later."