Got PTSD and Sleep Problems?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has a wide range of causes. These can range from a soldier’s experience in combat to something like an abusive relationship or a stressful job that lasted for years. These are all legitimate reasons to suffer from PTSD, and they come with their own long-term problems — from an intense anxiety that seems inescapable to a frightening tendency to lash out at people.

If you’re suffering from PTSD, the odds are fairly good you’re also having a hard time sleeping. Sleep deprivation with PTSD is common, though a number of sufferers do manage to sleep without any problems.

How PTSD Causes Sleep Problems

PTSD and its resulting sleep problems are fairly common. These sleep problems stem from a number of sources:

  • Nightmares – Many people with PTSD report frightening nightmares, sometimes relating to the trauma they suffered. Fear of these nightmares is a common cause of difficulties sleeping. Because there is no way to escape them other than not sleeping, many people start avoiding sleep.
  • Anxiety – PTSD almost always results from a period of high tension, where the sufferer had to be on edge and on guard for far longer than the human mind can properly handle. This need to be on guard at all times can persist even after the stressful situation has passed and makes sleeping difficult as a result.
  • Loss of Control – Succumbing to sleep can oftentimes lead to a sense of a loss of control for PTSD sufferers. Loss of control is an intense terror common with PTSD, often because sufferers had little control of the situation and could not relax in it.

How to Sleep Better With PTSD

The first thing you should do is get professional treatment for PTSD itself, especially if the condition has driven you to drug and/or alcohol abuse. Many mental and behavioral health professionals focus on anxiety disorders and can be a great resource. Contact them and solicit their help to get past PTSD. However, to sleep better, there are some things you can do:

  • Stick to a Schedule – Go to bed and wake up as close to the same time as possible every night. Avoiding exercise and alcohol six hours before your scheduled bed time is also a good idea. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and other stimulants at least six hours before bed as well.
  • Adjust Your Habits – Avoid taking naps during the day, especially in the later afternoon or early evening. If you truly can’t fall asleep after waiting for 20 to 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing such as reading a book or drinking decaffeinated tea. Don’t return to bed until you feel drowsy.
  • Limit Bedroom Activities – Reserve your bedroom for sleep only. This means eating, using your laptop, watching TV or using your mobile device is taboo. These things will likely only make your mind too active to fall asleep naturally.

Contact 12 Keys Rehab for Help

If you’re struggling with addiction, PTSD may be an underlying cause. You may find yourself turning to drugs and alcohol in an effort to combat sleep deprivation. There’s a better way, though, and the compassionate, caring staff of 12 Keys Rehab can help. Contact us any time of day or night for a personal, confidential consultation.

The Addiction Blog