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How Does PTSD Affect Sleep?

You may not associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with sleep issues, but the two are closely intertwined. In fact, the symptoms of PTSD can have a lingering effect on your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

PTSD symptoms like insomnia and nightmares can keep you from falling and staying asleep at night. This lack of sleep may perpetuate your PTSD symptoms to the point where you don’t get any sleep at all. 

At 2nd Chance Treatment Center in Phoenix, Glendale, and Gilbert, Arizona, we help people suffering from PTSD learn to manage their symptoms so they can get the sleep they need to truly heal. 

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD can develop after you experience a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, a serious car accident, physical or verbal assault, or military combat. 

Symptoms of PTSD often include:

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of symptoms, they’re the ones that can have the most impact on your ability to sleep. 

PTSD and sleep 

Between 70-90% of people with PTSD experience sleep disturbances. These disturbances often include poor sleep quality, shorter sleep duration, and more nighttime wakings. All of these disturbances can be traced back to symptoms of PTSD.

Flashbacks and nightmares, for example, can keep you from falling asleep or wake you up repeatedly once you do. You may also experience hallucinations as you begin to fall asleep or wake up. Knowing you may have any of these visions might also give you anxiety that further prevents you from sleeping well.  

PTSD symptoms can also manifest as paranoia and hyperarousal. If you’re particularly jumpy after a traumatic experience or constantly worried that something bad will happen again, you may have a harder time falling asleep or not be able to sleep as deeply.  

Co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression, alcohol addiction, and substance abuse can also wreak havoc on your sleep. 

Treating PTSD-related sleep disorders 

The first step to getting a better night’s rest is to get your PTSD symptoms under control. We offer personalized treatment plans that help you get the therapies and medications that work best for you. 

Through therapy, you can learn to recognize the triggers for your PTSD symptoms and adopt techniques you can use to help you cope when you’re triggered. Techniques like mindfulness and meditation can be effective ways to help decrease your symptoms while relaxing your mind and body for sleep. 

If needed, we can prescribe medications that help manage symptoms of PTSD and any co-occurring disorders that interfere with your ability to sleep. Medications we may prescribe include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and prazosin, which can reduce or suppress nightmares.

Once you start getting the rest you need, you may find that your PTSD symptoms begin lessening, and you feel more like yourself again.

If PTSD symptoms impact your ability to fall or stay asleep, we can help. Call us at any of our locations, or book an appointment online today. 

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