This article has been written and researched by Ana Luiza – a sleep scientist, psychobiologist, and biotechnologist, (Ph.D.) – to ensure the highest content quality and factual accuracy.
Having your home broken into can be a highly traumatic experience that can upset your thoughts and emotions to the point where your sleep is affected.
So how do you sleep better after a burglary?
The most effective ways to sleep better after a burglary include: CBT therapy to overcome the trauma; installing security systems to ease your mind; taking legal action to get closure; following good sleep hygiene; trying meditation, yoga, and regular exercise. Avoid sleep medications due to their side effects and addiction potential.
The rest of this article expands upon these points and provides you with 17 actionable strategies so that you can sleep better after a break-in.
Although this article has been written by a sleep scientist, you should always talk to a qualified medical professional or counselor to help you with your unique situation for the best treatment plan.
Related: try these 8 ways to stop OCD thoughts at night.
17 Ways to Sleep Better After a Burglary
When someone breaks into your home, even if they don’t take anything of value, you feel as if they’ve invaded your safe space.
And suddenly, you lose your sense of security and become terrified that it will happen again.
It is perfectly normal to feel anxious, depressed, stressed, or afraid after a break in.
The problem is that all of these emotions can make it harder to get to sleep – which in turn can impact your daily activities.
Below are 17 different techniques that can help you to get to sleep after your home has been broken in to:
1: Try CBT Therapy to Overcome the Trauma
Being burgled is a highly traumatic experience for most people so you may find it useful to talk to your doctor about taking CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) sessions to help you process your emotions and thus help you to relax enough to be able to sleep properly again.
People can react very differently to a traumatic event – it is normal to feel upset, anxious, and lose your sleep or appetite.
This state can take about one month to settle down.
However, some signals indicate that you may have a more severe problem, such as :
- Re-experiencing the trauma with recurrent dreaming about the event, flashbacks, intrusive memories, or distress in situations that bring back memories of the actual event.
- Avoiding people, places, conversations, activities, objects, or situations that bring back memories of the event.
- Constant watchfulness.
- Blaming yourself or others.
- Reduced interest in things.
- Not being able to remember the entire event.
These symptoms are present in people with acute stress disorder.
These symptoms usually develop in a few days or weeks after the trauma.
If the symptoms persist for a month or longer, you may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In this case, it’s vital to seek medical help.
The treatment of these conditions typically involves psychotherapy and medication.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) acts upon specific behaviors and thoughts.
It involves stimulus control, such as associating the bed and bedroom with sleep, sleep restriction to increase sleep need and reduce the time spent in bed, and cognitive therapy.
Cognitive therapy addresses wrongful beliefs about sleep and aims to reduce anxiety about sleep and the consequences of not sleeping.
CBT has proven to be effective in treating insomnia in people with stress-related disorders.
One study carried out with war veterans with PTSD-related insomnia showed that CBT improved insomnia in 47% of the individuals.
Those who benefit from CBT decreased antidepressant usage.
2: Make Your Home More Secure to Ease Your Mind
You cannot erase what has already happened, but you can take some actions to prevent future incidents and thus put your mind at ease so that you can sleep more soundly at night.
Typically, burglars are less likely to choose homes that have good security measures in place and will usually look for easier targets.
You can hire a professional security company to install an alarm system connected to a central monitoring station.
Or you can install the cameras and monitor them yourself.
Strengthening your home security can be a good idea to give you the peace of mind you need to go back to your regular sleeping routine.
3: Take Legal Action to Get Closure
Taking legal action against the burglars can help to give you a sense of closure by knowing that the perpetrators have been held accountable for their actions, which may give you peace of mind so that you can sleep better at night.
In 2019, the FBI reported a total of 2,109.9 property crimes per 100,000 people.
Burglary was the second more common type of property crime after larceny/theft.
However, only 48% of household burglary and trespassing offenses are reported to the police in the United States.
Although dealing with criminal justice may seem stressful, you may feel more secure knowing that the authorities are taking care of the investigation.
Collaborate with the investigation and fill in all of the police reports in detail to give them the best chance of catching the thieves.
If you have insurance, call the insurance company to see if you can get part of what was stolen back.
If you have security cameras installed, you can take the footage to the police and your insurance company as further documented proof.
It can also help you identify possible gaps in your security system to prevent future occurrences.
4: Follow a Good Sleep Hygiene Routine
Following a good sleep hygiene routine before bedtime can help to prepare your mind and body for sleep – which is especially important when trying to get over an emotionally unsettling experience like a burglary.
Follow the sleep hygiene tips below:
- Have a regular sleep and wake-up schedule.
- Avoid eating fatty, heavy, or spicy food before sleeping.
- Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol before sleeping.
- Avoid stressful situations near bedtime.
- Create a pleasant sleeping environment.
- Avoid exposing yourself to bright light near bedtime.
- Expose yourself to the sunlight early in the morning.
When dealing with insomnia, you should also follow this advice:
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, get up and do a calm activity such as reading a book or meditating.
- Don’t look at your clock, phone, or smartwatch – this will only make you anxious.
- Reduce fluid intake at night, so you don’t wake up needing to use the bathroom.
- Avoid thinking about the things you have to do by setting a time for planning your next day before going to sleep.
- Keep a sleep diary to help you track time spent in bed and subjective sleep quality.
5: Reframe Your Focus With Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation can help you deal with stress and anxiety while developing greater control over your thoughts and emotions.
This type of meditation focuses on being aware at the present moment.
It also teaches you to be more grateful and compassionate with yourself and others.
These abilities can make a huge difference when you’re dealing with post-traumatic stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation was associated with better sleep quality in a systematic literature review of 18 randomized controlled clinical trials.
Preferably, seek the advice of a trained professional to guide you through this process.
Or you can try listening to the guided meditation video below with your earphones in before bed:
6: Try Light Therapy to Treat Insomnia
Light therapy involves exposure to artificial light to treat insomnia and other conditions.
In a light therapy session, you sit in front of a light therapy box that emits bright light for a set amount of time each day.
During the session, the light reaches specific proteins in your eye cells.
These cells send a signal to your brain to stimulate your body to produce and release hormones, such as melatonin.
Melatonin is only released when it’s dark, and the perception of light delays melatonin production.
When you expose yourself to the light early in the morning, you tend to sleep earlier.
This is helpful in people with depression and stress-related insomnia that usually go to sleep and wake up later than most people.
This treatment can effectively treat insomnia, depression, and circadian rhythm disorders, and it may also improve PTSD symptoms.
7: Exercise During the Day to Combat Stress
Exercising is beneficial for your overall health, and it can also help you solve your sleep problems.
Physically active people have fewer complaints of insomnia than sedentary people.
Moderate physical activity such as a 30-min walk can help you fall asleep faster, spend more time in quality sleep, and beat sleep-related anxiety.
Exercise can help you sleep better in both the short and long term.
People who train for six months or more have better sleep quality and efficiency than sedentary people.
They report feeling rested in the morning more frequently and have less depression and anxiety.
Physical exercise was associated with improved PTSD symptoms; relieving PTSD-related symptoms like headaches, neck pain, vestibular problems, sleep, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Thus, if you’re having sleep problems after a burglary, physical activity can be a good option for you.
However, try to exercise during the day or morning, since being active just before bed can potentially make it harder to get to sleep due to the increase in stress hormones in your body.
8: Release Tension With Yoga
Yoga can help to release the tension in your body, which may build up even more after a stressful event like being burgled.
Yoga is a type of physical exercise that can have a sleep-inducing effect and also improve strength, balance, and flexibility.
Other benefits of yoga are improved mood and reduced anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
All of these effects can improve your sleep quality indirectly.
Studies show that people who practice yoga have better sleep quality than those who don’t.
Additionally, one study showed that a 12-week home-based, online yoga intervention reduced the symptoms of PTSD and depression in women after stillbirth.
Try following the 12 minute yoga routine for better sleep in the video below before bed:
9: Improve Sleep Quality With Acupuncture
Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles through the skin at strategic body points.
Although it’s more common in pain treatment, it can also treat other health conditions such as sleep and stress disorders.
One study examined the efficacy of auricular acupuncture in veterans with PTSD and sleep problems.
Thirty veterans were separated into two groups, one was treated with acupuncture for three weeks, and the other didn’t receive the treatment (control group).
Sleep quality and daytime dysfunction were improved in the acupuncture group compared with the control.
Always chose a certified acupuncture practitioner.
The risks are low, but some complications may happen, especially if you have a bleeding disorder, a pacemaker, or if you’re pregnant.
10: Don’t Bottle Up Your Emotions
After the break-in, take time to process your thoughts and emotions.
If you feel sad, helpless, anxious, afraid, frustrated, and/or angry, know that these emotions are perfectly normal and expected.
Don’t try to avoid them or make yourself strong so that others do not see that you are suffering.
Don’t try to hide behind your work, food, drugs, or alcohol – It will only worsen the problem.
Use the mindfulness strategy listed earlier to help you manage your emotions as they arise.
11: Talk to Friends and Family for Comfort
Burglary is a potentially traumatic experience, meaning it can cause severe distress if not handled correctly.
If necessary, talk to your friends and family about what happened and how you feel about it.
Talking to people you love can help you process the facts easily and give you comfort.
If you don’t feel any better, then you should see a therapist to help you process your emotions and thoughts in a constructive way so that you can become grounded again and sleep better.
12: Return to Your Routine to Regain Control
When something terrible happens to you, it is normal to feel a little lost and avoid certain places and situations.
This can result in a 180-degree change in your life, which is ok for a while.
But if this behavior affects your daily activities and your sleep, it is time to get help.
When you suddenly change your daily habits, your body clock can get confused.
This clock controls your body rhythms by stimulating the release of hormones involved in digestion, sleep, and alertness.
When you follow regular schedules, your body anticipates your behaviors; releasing these hormones.
Irregular sleeping schedules have been linked to poor sleep quality.
Try to get back to your routine.
This will probably help you return to your regular sleep as well.
13: Limit or Avoid Alcohol
Some people may have a few drinks to cope with the stress of having their house burgled.
However, drinking too much alcohol can prolong your recovery and is best avoided entirely until you are over the trauma.
But if you enjoy having a drink, stick to the recommended alcohol intake guidelines by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less for women.
It would be best if you also avoided alcohol at night because it can worsen your sleeping problems.
Alcohol has sedative effects and may help you sleep faster, but when you drink before bed, your sleep can get disrupted as liver enzymes metabolize it.
It can also cause excessive sleepiness and hangover symptoms the following day.
Besides, drinking to fall asleep can build tolerance, forcing you to consume more alcohol night after night to experience its sedative effects.
14: Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
After having experienced considerable stress, you may feel less compelled to eat healthily and exercise.
However, physical activity and healthy eating are essential for controlling your mood and alleviating anxiety.
It’s also common to engage in other unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking, or overeating.
It would be best to avoid these behaviors; they may give you instant relief, but it’s only temporary.
Instead, try to incorporate healthy habits into your daily life.
Have a balanced diet and practice physical activity.
This will make you feel better in the long term, and it will also help you sleep better.
As an example, one study examined the efficacy of 12-week fish oil supplementation in trauma-exposed Japanese Disaster Medical Assistance team workers.
Women who consumed fish oil had significantly greater improvements in PTSD symptoms than women who didn’t.
15: Express Your Emotions With Songwriting
If you have a creative personality or simply like music and poetry, you can try songwriting as a type of therapy to express your emotions and help ground you for better sleep.
One study with ten veterans showed that collaborative songwriting reduced PTSD, depression, and stress symptoms.
The intervention consisted of three meetings with a professional songwriter that took an hour and 15 min.
The veterans were instructed to listen to their songs daily for five weeks.
The participants reported that the activity was helpful and would refer others to this treatment.
16: Listen to Relaxing Music Before Bed
Evidence shows that listening to relaxing music at bedtime can help you sleep better.
For example, music therapy significantly reduced depression and improved sleep efficiency in PTSD patients.
Try listening to your favorite music or the binaural beats for sleep in the video below with your earphones on prior to bed:
17: Only Take Sleep Medications as a Last Resort
Sleep medications should be a last resort because they have side effects and can cause addiction in some cases.
However, if you’re having trouble sleeping or staying awake at least three times a week for more than three months, you should see a doctor.
He/she may prescribe medications to help you sleep.
The most common are:
- Doxepin (Silenor).
- Eszopiclone (Lunesta).
- Ramelteon (Rozerem).
- Temazepam (Restoril).
- Triazolam (Halcion).
- Zaleplon (Sonata).
- Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist).
- Suvorexant (Belsomra).
These medications can cause dependence and are associated with undesired side effects such as:
- Gastrointestinal problems.
- Allergic reactions.
- Memory problems.
- Safety issues.
The doctor may also prescribe melatonin, a sleep inductor.
If PTSD causes your insomnia, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants to relieve your symptoms.
Always consult with a doctor before starting any treatment.
How Burglary Affects Sleep
Burglary can have several psychological effects on victims, and research shows that severe trauma occurs in one of 20 cases.
The intrusion and violation of the victim’s safe territory causes great suffering, mainly because your home is one of the most important things.
The psychological consequences can last for a long time.
The most common reactions to burglary are anger, annoyance, shock, and general upset.
Another study assessed the well-being of 20 victims of residential burglary.
One and two weeks after the crime, the victims were more anxious, hostile, depressed, tired, and confused than the controls.
These emotions were still present one month later.
All of these negative emotions can harm your sleep.
When you’re too anxious, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying in bed.
In turn, when you can’t sleep well at night, you feel more anxious.
Anxious people can’t stop thinking about their problems while in bed, keeping them awake.
In turn, they feel worried about not getting to sleep.
Additionally, they frequently have nightmares, which increases the fear of going to sleep.
It’s perfectly normal to feel sad, upset, or disappointed after having your house burgled.
However, when this sadness lasts for more than two weeks and starts to affect your daily activities, you may have depression.
Depression symptoms include:
- Persistent sadness.
- Irritated mood.
- Feelings of hopelessness or guilt.
- Lack of energy.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Lack of appetite.
Depression can also cause sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or excessive sleepiness.
At the same time, having difficulty sleeping can worsen the symptoms.
A house break-in is a highly stressful situation.
You have to deal with the police, insurance company, change documents, door locks, and bank account.
It seems like a nightmare.
All of this stress will reflect on your sleep quantity and quality.
And like any other mental health issue, the less sleep you have, the more stressed you feel.
Highly stressed people are more likely to experience the consequences of sleep loss such as:
- Lack of concentration.
Finally, such a traumatic experience increases the chances of developing PTSD, which also has negative consequences on sleep, as discussed above.
Conclusion: Try Multiple Techniques
Having your home burgled can be traumatic.
Each person reacts differently, but most people feel sad, angry, stressed, and afraid.
Many people lose sleep as a result.
This is perfectly normal, as long as it doesn’t last too long after the event, nor does it affect your everyday life.
If this happens, seek medical help.
To improve the impact of the burglary on your sleep, there are several things that you can try alongside each other for maximum effectiveness.
Among them are good sleep hygiene, physical exercises, meditation, yoga, and music therapy.
Sleep medications should be a last resort due to their side effects.
It’s also important to know that you are not alone in this, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Up next: 6 ways to sleep better with a stomach ulcer.
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No part of this article or website provides medical advice – always talk to a qualified medical professional for such guidance.
Image Attribution and Licencing
Main image: ‘Sleeping’ by NadyaPhoto (Getty Images Signature) – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.