Insomnia, or trouble getting to or staying asleep at night, can be caused by many physical issues. It can also be caused by emotional or mental problems. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress DIsorder) has been linked to symptoms of insomnia. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD by a doctor and are having trouble getting rejuvenating sleep, your mental health could be keeping you awake.

It’s normal for all of us to take a few minutes to “simmer down” once we slip between the sheets. However, if you’re still awake thirty or forty-five minutes after you’ve turned out the lights, you’re experiencing insomnia that won’t let you turn your mind and body off. If you awaken during the wee hours of the morning, once–or repeatedly–and have difficulty falling back to sleep, that’s a form of insomnia as well. This trend interrupts your sleep cycle making it impossible for you to get the restless sleep that your body needs to function.

Is PTSD Becoming a Nightmare?

PTSD can cause insomnia in several ways. Sometimes the person who has PTSD is actually afraid to go to sleep because of flash-backs that occur or nightmares that predictably occur. A person with this sort of insomnia will actually try very hard to avoid going to sleep. It is sometimes induced insomnia. Staying awake is much better than falling asleep and having terrifying thoughts or dreams.

Nightmares that occur are often representative of the traumatic event–not literal. The emotions evoked by a nightmare can be identical to the emotions caused by the original trauma. This is very similar to a flash-back. During a flash-back, the PTSD sufferer experiences the exact trauma as it happened in reality in the form of a dream-like vision.

Insomnia by Association

Insomnia can also be a problem if the victim equates bedtime with a traumatic event such as molestation or rape that happened in an actual bed. This sort of reaction is only logical. Victims of this sort often feel safer sleeping on a couch or a much smaller bed. Sometimes a change of sleep schedule helps, too. If the assault occurred during the night, sleeping during the day may be easier and more restful.

Anxiety and depression are usually present in people who suffer from PTSD. Anxiety and depression cause insomnia in many people. Depression interrupts the sleep cycle by causing the person to wake up during the early morning hours and have difficult getting back to sleep. Anxiety causes a restlessness that makes it very hard to relax the mind and body enough to get refreshing sleep. In the quiet of the night, under the blankets, the mind has a chance to run away with itself. That’s when anxiety starts. Anxiety can cause physical reactions like heart palpitations or sweating that keep you awake and in a state of unrest.

Insomnia that is caused by PTSD is treatable. If you think your traumatic experience is interfering with your quality and quantity of sleep, talk to your doctor. There are several solutions you can try to bring back the good quality sleep your body need.


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