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Put Compassion Fatigue to Bed

If you’ve ever lied awake at night counting sheep rather than catching ZZZs, you know how utterly frustrating it can be, not to mention how physically and mentally fatigued you feel the next day. Sleep is so vital to our overall health, but according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one third of adults in the US simply aren’t getting enough (Liu et al., 2014). I can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is to combating compassion fatigue.

To help you drift off to dreamland, try the following tips:

  • Establish a sleep schedule. This means going to bed at roughly the same time each night waking up at roughly the same time each morning – even on weekends.
  • Try not to take daytime naps. If you must, however, keep them short – 30 minutes or less.
  • No clock watching! If you find yourself lying awake at night for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Read a boring book, listen to calming music, or simply sit on the couch until you feel drowsy.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine six hours before you snooze.
  • Exercise on a regular basis, but make sure you do it several hours prior to going to sleep.
  • Take a warm shower or bath before bedtime.
  • Make sure your room is suitable for slumber. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Try a sleep mask to keep out light.
  • Use ear plugs, a fan, or a white noise machine.
  • Turn off all electronics, including TVs, computers, and cell phones. Your brain can detect light even when you’re asleep…
  • Practice mindful deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided meditation just before bedtime.
  • Try one of my favorite tricks, which I call the ABC game. Pick a category – animals, vegetable, cars – and then go through the alphabet and try to name as many as you can before you fall asleep. For example, asparagus, beets, carrots, etc. I bet you won’t make it to “z”!
  • If all else fails, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps to promote sleep as well as fight depression.
Put Compassion Fatigue to Bed

Jennifer Blough

Jennifer Blough is a professional counselor, certified compassion fatigue therapist, certified pet loss grief recovery specialist, and the owner of Deepwater Counseling in southeast Michigan. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, she presents compassion fatigue workshops to local animal welfare and veterinary organizations. She is the author of the book, To Save a Starfish: A Compassion Fatigue Workbook for the Animal Welfare Warrior, available on Amazon. Jennifer shares her home with her husband and their eight rescued companion animals.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). Put Compassion Fatigue to Bed. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 1 Jan 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Jan 2017
Published on All rights reserved.