Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and How It Can Effect Sleep

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is induced in an individual after they have suffered from an experience that is psychologically traumatizing. Often associated with soldiers and returning vets and thought of as “shell shock” in the past, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not isolated to just participants or victims of war. The types of events that can trigger the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can include physical, life threatening injuries, witnessing loss of life particularly that of a friend of loved one, near death experiences, threats to your own life or to the life or well-being of another, or extreme emotionally terrifying or traumatizing episodes such as becoming a hostage, being abused or tortured, etc., and traumatic episodes such as a near fatal car crash or explosion. Unfortunately, these types of events are not isolated only to war zones which means that anyone may suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even in the civilian population.

English: StressEraser is a biofeedback and per...

English: StressEraser is a biofeedback and personal antistress device. Français : StressEraser est un dispositif de biofeedback et d’aide personnel contre le stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like most anxiety and stress related disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder interferes with a patient’s sleep habits. In fact, the inability to fall asleep, difficulty sleeping through the night and recurring nightmares are some of the bench mark symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The physical problems that are associated with the disorder including pain that can be light or severe and chronic, trouble with the stomach and digestive system, and headaches can also make sleeping difficult. Flashbacks and recurring thoughts can also make it difficult for you to switch your mind off of the memories of the traumatic event and make it difficult to shut your brain down so that you can fall asleep. Hearing things can also interfere with a full nights sleep since patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are often hyper alert to their surroundings making any background noise, such as a tv or radio, a distraction making it hard for you to fall asleep or can wake you up in the middle of the night.

For some patients, they are able to deal with this through therapy and using meditation and other stress relieving techniques, natural herbal aids such as chamomile tea, and aromatherapy used as essential oils or in sleep aiding sprays that you apply to your bed linens before bed to help them relax and get a good night’s sleep. For other patients, more intense treatments are required which may involve intense psychotherapy or even medication. So if you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, speak to your care giver right away to explore the best options for you.


  1. This makes sense!

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