Sleepless Nights During Deployments

Every time my husband prepares for deployment, I know to prepare myself for sleepless nights. Any of you who are sleeping in an empty bed for the first time in a while know just what I’m talking about with this one.

The night my husband left for his first deployment, I was laying in bed with my eyes closed (not because I was sleeping but because they were swollen shut!) when I realized I was living alone for the first time in my life. I had moved from my parent’s house to living with roommates in college to living with Rob after we were married. That’s not such a great realization when you’re already freaking out about everything else that’s happening.

That first deployment, I managed about 3 hours of sleep a night. Now I’m one who growing up had no problem sleeping until noon after going to bed at midnight the previous night. My parents used to kid me that I needed my 12 in order for anyone to stand to be around me. But the sleepless nights had nothing to do with me being scared to be there by myself.

Part of it was the fact that my bed was empty. A bed that should have my husband sprawled out across at least half of it with a pillow over his head snoring louder than ever. But the other part was that it was quiet at night. All day, I did what you do as an Army wife to survive a deployment – STAY BUSY! I would run around all day working on my business, running errands, looking for care package items, standing in endless lines at the post office, etc. You all know the routine. But at night, it was quiet and dark and I was still. There were no distractions except my own mind. When I finally allowed my body to rest is when my mind would kick into high gear with all of the what ifs.

So I would lay there in the darkness surrounded by anxious and worrisome questions that I would never have answers to until he was home safe again. And some I would never have answers to at all. My only break would be when I would stay at someone else’s house, be it my parent’s or a friend’s house. He wasn’t suppose to be in that bed. I didn’t wake up in the night expecting him to be there. And on those rare nights, I would sleep soundly dreaming that my husband was just laying in our bed at home asleep…and safe.

When he comes home again, its always such a great relief. I feel like I’m breathing fully again for the first time in months. And my body lets me know it is utterly exhausted and simply can’t go for another day deprived. That first night he’s back, laying in bed with his arm around me while I fall asleep is absolutely the best feeling in the world. My world then is as it should be…with my husband beside me, the pillow thrown over his head and the earth shattering snore. There’s never been a sweeter lullaby to fall asleep to.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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  1. Currently I am surviving my first deployment and I can totally relate to the sleepless nights. The only thing that helps me sleep at night is knowing that I might get to talk to him the next day. But it is strange not having him sleeping right next to me and I miss just having someone to hold me at night.
    Anyways I just wanted to say that listening to music helps me fall asleep at night on nights when I am having a really hard time. Perhaps it could help some of your readers too.

  2. I needed that! My husband is not technically “deployed.” He’s in the DMZ in Korea, but because we have school-age kids and there’s no school there, we are back home. For a whole year we won’t see him…no paid R&R flight home, no extra duty pay (well $300, but he spends about $900). Anyway, I can totally relate. I do my best sleeping during the day, definitely not at night.

  3. I am new to the Army, I just recently married a SGM who has been in the Army for 22yrs now. This is my first time without him in a year. It has not been that long since he left, and this anxiety & frustration I feel is not getting any easier nor is it going away. Any suggestions besides staying busy?

    Thank you,

  4. I’m a newly wed army wife with my husband deployed for a year and miles away from civilization. Any tips on how to battle the loneliness? I’ve read so many blogs, and articles, and they all stress the importance of routine and keeping busy, but any other advice?

    1. Find your battle buddies! Whether you meet people through work, school, volunteering, etc, you need that support system and another wife going through the same is the best! 🙂

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