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The effects of PTSD on mental health are widely known. A common issue experienced by those afflicted is trouble with sleep. PTSD sufferers can often experience nightmares along with insomnia and other sleep issues.
Why do people with PTSD have sleep problems?
- They might be “on guard.” PTSD may cause you to feel that dangerous situations are always lurking, and those with PTSD may feel that they need to be aware of their surroundings and on the lookout to protect themselves from this danger at all times. Feeling relaxed enough to fall asleep may be troublesome during these times. You also may be easily awakened by noises at night.
- They might have restless and worrisome thoughts. A racing mind is a common cause of restless nights, and this is even more likely if you have PTSD. Worries range from everyday issues to thoughts of imminent danger. Sleeplessness itself can cause worry that you’ll not be able to sleep at all, and these thoughts can cause further sleeplessness.
- They might use drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol and drug use are common in those with PTSD. These substances can damage the quality and quantity of sleep.
- They may be having nightmares. Waking due to nightmares is common, especially in those with PTSD. Unfortunately, nightmares can cause a cycle of sleeplessness, as fear of having another nightmare may make falling asleep difficult.
- They may have medical issues. Chronic medical issues may cause sleeplessness in people experiencing PTSD. Chronic gastrointestinal problems, pain, and, for women, pelvic-area concerns make continued sleep or falling asleep difficult.
What can you do if you have problems?
Many strategies can help you sleep better:
Change your sleeping area
Make sure that where you sleep is as conducive to a restful experience as possible. Reduce light and noise in your sleep environment and make sure that it’s free from activity.
- Do not have a radio or television in your bedroom.
- Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
- Use a fan or noise machine to create soothing white noise. Make sure that it’s cool and dark by using blinds and curtains to block light.
Keep a bedtime routine and sleep schedule
A bedtime routine is essential to help minimize sleep issues, and setting a schedule of bedtimes and wake times will help your body adjust to and maintain a schedule. It’s important to enlist those you live with to help with this routine.
- Don’t do exercise or work on stressful projects within two hours of going to bed. Energizing activities or stress during this period can be an obstacle to falling asleep.
- Create a soothing routine to set yourself up for a relaxing bedtime. Many will incorporate soft music, a warm and caffeine-free beverage, or a quiet bath or shower into their routine before bed.
- Find ways to block light and noise. Earplugs or a sleep mask can be helpful tools to create a quiet and dark environment.
- Stick to a schedule. Wake up at the same time on weekends that you do on weekdays. Getting a sleep schedule set over time by waking up at the same time every morning, even if you’re still tired, will help you fall asleep more easily at bedtime.
Try to relax if you can’t sleep
Finding ways to relax and remain calm is a treatment approach used by professionals including first-responders, a Stratford children’s dentist, and emergency trauma teams. These strategies can be helpful in dealing with PTSD sleep deficiencies.
- Get into a peaceful mindset. Imagine yourself in a serene place, and focus on each detail and how pleasant and relaxed it makes you feel.
- Practice a quiet pastime: Read, crochet, etc., until you feel tired.
Watch your activities during the day
Your habits and activities during the day affect how well you sleep. Here are some suggestions:
- Exercise is a great way to make sure that you’re appropriately tired in the evenings. Be careful to do all of your exercise prior to two hours before bedtime.
- If possible, use the natural ebb and flow of the day to help set your sleep cycle. Where possible, be sure to get some time outside during daylight hours.
- Limit caffeine. When possible, remove it from your diet. It’s well-known that coffee contains caffeine, but hidden caffeine in chocolate, tea, and some sodas should be avoided as well.
- The effects of alcohol can lead to frequent waking during sleep. Refrain from alcohol use before bed. Stratford CT dentistry practitioners will also note that the physical effects of alcohol on teeth can be harmful over time.
- Refrain from using products containing nicotine. Smoking, especially near bedtime, can hinder sleep.
- Limit liquids near bedtime, especially if frequent urination causes you to wake often.
- Abstain from medications that may impair sleep. Many medicines can cause hyperactivity, for instance. Consult with your physician if you’re prescribed these medications to see if you’re able to take them in morning or afternoon instead of near bedtime.
Talk to your doctor
Your physician can assist with many of the conditions that cause sleeplessness, including anxiety, pain, injuries, or nightmares. Medication may also be prescribed by your physician to help with PTSD-related sleep symptoms. A variety of medicines are known to be helpful in these cases. These medicines can help improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Other Resources for PTSD
- Trauma and Sleep: It’s common to have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event.
- PTSD and Sleep Issues: PTSD can cause a variety of problems at bedtime, from difficulty falling asleep to nightmares.
- Stratford Sleep Apnea Treatment: Get information on correcting sleep apnea symptoms that could be harming your physical and mental health.
- National Center for PTSD: Find help for veterans struggling with PTSD through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- PTSD United: This community is devoted to providing support for those with PTSD and those who care for them.
- Mental Health Concerns for Veterans: The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers information about mental health issues that can affect veterans, including PTSD.
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you’re in crisis, help is available now.
- Military and Veteran Caregiver Network: PTSD, like any mental health issue, doesn’t only affect the person diagnosed. On this site, the American Red Cross provides help for caregivers of veterans.
- After Deployment: Learn about PTSD in veterans and how it can be treated.
- What Are the Treatments for PTSD? Medical professionals use six common approaches to help those suffering from the psychological effects of trauma.
- Combat PTSD: This organization’s approach to helping veterans takes advantage of military concepts and training.
- Lift for the 22: Exercise can be beneficial for mental health, and this group offers free gym memberships to veterans and helps them transition to civilian life.
- GallantFew: Through one-on-one mentoring, GallantFew helps veterans find their new path after their service.
- PTSD Diagnosis: When to Seek Help: Find out about how PTSD is diagnosed and what symptoms indicate a potential problem on this page.
- Changes in PTSD Diagnosis: Revisions to the psychological diagnostic manual have made it easier for veterans to get the help they need.
- Home Management Strategies for PTSD: Use these strategies with a child to help them work through their anxiety after a traumatic experience.
- Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma: The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies looks at how a childhood trauma can continue to affect an adult.
- PTSD Parenting Resources: Learn about the effects of trauma on young people and how to help them recover.
- Effects of Traumatic Experiences: A Stanford paper looks at how a traumatic experience can alter a person’s life and their mental health.
- Combat Stress Recovery: The Wounded Warrior Project offers programs to help veterans improve their mental health.
- How Is PTSD Diagnosed? PTSD can be easy for a doctor to spot, but only if the patient is willing to open up about their experiences.