PTSD Awareness Month: Connecting the dots with sleep disorders
June 1, 2017
Posted by: sleepapnea.org
June is PTSD Awareness Month, and the American Sleep Apnea Association is here to help those who are suffering from the many invasive problems with sleep that are part of life with PTSD. Our Sleeptember® forums have lots of discussions about PTSD to help you find the support you need (see the full list here).
What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and refers to specific behaviors, including devastating sleep problems, associated with the results of suffered trauma.
The trauma experienced could be physical, emotional, physical, sexual, or psychological. It could be recent raw trauma such as the survival of a horrific event, or it could be traumatic experiences repressed from childhood.
PTSD Awareness Month: Connecting the Dots between PTSD and sleep
We’ve collected a Top Ten list of links you can peruse regarding five areas in which PTSD has a distinct relationship with sleep health: The Military, Trauma, Women (Female), Therapies, and Neuroscience.
The Military Connection
The most obvious connection between poor sleep and PTSD exists within our military communities. Insomnia, nightmares, sleep apnea, and extreme daytime fatigue are hallmarks of sleep problems that impact those who’ve seen combat.
Trauma can happen even in those outside the military. It can also impact first responders, survivors of natural or manmade disasters, people living in war zones, those suffering from adverse childhood experiences (ACE), assault and abuse victims (sexual, physical, emotional), witnesses of tragic or horrible events, car accident survivors, and anyone who has sustained major head or body trauma.
People might be surprised to learn that PTSD (and its sleep disturbances) can have a wide-ranging impact on women. Trauma from ACEs, sexual assault, childbirth, domestic violence, or life in a combat zone can all lead to ongoing problems with insomnia, nightmares, and other behaviors that impact sleep.
The problem of PTSD has grown exponentially, but so too have efforts to treat, prevent, and potentially cure it. This includes pharmaceuticals, behavioral changes, occupational or recreational therapies, even neurological approaches. Just the act of communicating the anxiety and distress that are consistent with long-term PTSD in different media can help liberate some people by reminding them they aren’t alone.
With help coming from sophisticated new approaches in neuroscience, PTSD and the sleep problems it brings can be investigated at levels never seen before. Understanding the neurobiology and genetics of trauma and objectively measuring its impact on the sleep-wake process and mood regulation will go a long way toward helping scientists find the best treatments for those who suffer.