Can bedtime routines help military spouses get better sleep when your service member is gone? Yes!

No one likes sleeping alone, but military spouses often experience the cold, lonely feeling of an empty bed. It doesn’t matter if your service member is away for just a few nights, or for several months. Once you’re married, you never quite get used to sleeping alone. Many military spouses confess they lose sleep when their service member is away, either because they’re concerned for their loved ones safety, or because they’re afraid to be in the house by themselves. And of course, it’s always more challenging if your service member is in a different time zone! You need bedtime routines that help you feel relaxed and settled.

Read more here about dealing with stress during deployment: How to Conquer the Worst Part of Deployments with 1 Secret

Military Spouses Struggle to Sleep

If you toss and turn, stay up later, feel more on edge, or keep waiting for the phone to ring, then you aren’t alone, military spouse! So many of us are staying up with you, struggling to get some sleep, but wishing we could curl up with the person we love best.

And when we can’t sleep, what do we do? Turn on the TV and binge-watch an entire series. Scroll endlessly on our phones, looking for some entertainment or distraction. Get a snack. Stare at the ceiling and worry about the future. While these bedtime routines may sound familiar, none of them are healthy, and they won’t help you get the rest you need to face tomorrow.

So what’s a military spouse to do when they can’t sleep because their service member is away?

Bedtime Routines for Military Spouses

In my book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses, I have a letter for you to read during those sleepless nights. It’s called, “Open When You Have Trouble Sleeping.” In it, I share some of the following tips and bedtime routines for military spouses who can’t get to sleep.

Have a wind-down routine

If you feel anxious and have trouble settling at night, have some intentional routines that prepare your mind and body for rest. No, sitting in bed scrolling on your phone doesn’t count. (The light and images actually stimulate your brain and keep you awake!) Instead try drinking decaf tea, taking a hot bath, reading a book, writing in a journal, listening to music or audiobooks, or meditating. Choose whatever habits work for you, and soon you’ll look forward to them.

If you find your mind stuck going through “what-ifs” and questions about their military deployment, try this deployment checklist to help you feel more organized and settled.

Set the mood

To get effective sleep, your room should feel comfortable and safe. If you’re anxious about being alone, get an alarm system, and lock all windows and doors. Try to keep your sleeping space free from work and clutter. So the laptop and empty snack bags that have taken over his side of the bed– just theoretically, haha– should be cleared away. If you toss and turn, get a weighted blanket to help you feel embraced at night. Use relaxing sounds like white noise, and calming scents like lavender, to help put your mind at ease.

Change the communication plan

If your service member is away in another time zone, it’s always tempting to stay up all night for the chance to talk or video chat when they are available. But that isn’t fair to you, and in the long run (like during a military deployment) it will have a negative effect on your health. If your service member’s schedule is keeping you up all night, see if you can compromise to find a time you’re both awake, or schedule longer calls for the weekends.

Talk to a supportive friend

If you’re feeling alone in this military life, it might help to realize that there are thousands of other military spouses out there, all going through this sleepless night together! Don’t believe me? You can meet 8,000 of them in my deployment support group on Facebook, called “Handle Deployment Like a Boss.” It’s free, open to all military branches, and includes anyone who is dating or married to a service member. We’re here to help you through, whether it’s your first night sleeping alone, or you just wan to talk to someone while your adjusting to a duty station in a new time zone.

I know it isn’t easy to get a good night of sleep when your service member is away. But as a military spouse, you have to develop your own coping strategies for the nights you will spend sleeping alone. I’m here for you! For more inspiration and comfort throughout military life, grab a copy of my book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses so you’ll always have a kind message from a fellow milspouse who gets this life, in the moments you need it most!

Open When book


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