What Are the Effects of PTSD on Sleep?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards
Children suffering from PTSD may experience difficulty sleeping.
Children suffering from PTSD may experience difficulty sleeping.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that is the result of a traumatic experience. The majority of patients with PTSD will often have frightening dreams, or nightmares, after their experiences. Children with PTSD may also involuntarily urinate while they are sleeping. Nightmares and bedwetting, combined with anxiety and stress, can often lead to the insomnia in some PTSD patients. The effects of PTSD on sleep will generally result in fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

Many people with PTSD often have nightmares.
Many people with PTSD often have nightmares.

Individuals who experience a traumatic event can sometimes develop an anxiety disorder known as post-traumatic stress syndrome, or PTSD. This disorder can be caused by nearly any type of traumatic or frightening experience. War, abuse, crimes, and accidents are very common causes of PTSD. Patients who suffer from the disorder will often relive their traumatic experiences in their own minds, and they will often try to avoid anything that reminds them of the experience. There are also some negative effects of PTSD on sleep.

Severe nightmares or bedwetting will often cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night.
Severe nightmares or bedwetting will often cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night.

Nightmares are one of the most common symptoms of PTSD. Some studies indicate that more than half of all PTSD sufferers frequently have frightening dreams about their experiences. Recurring nightmares are generally the most common, but patients may also dream about things that are seemingly unrelated to their experiences.

Bedwetting may be another effect of PTSD on sleep. This is generally more common in children, but it can also occur in adults. Bedwetting in older children is sometimes a sign of PTSD caused by abuse, particularly sexual abuse.

Nightmares can lead to insomnia for some children with PTSD.
Nightmares can lead to insomnia for some children with PTSD.

Severe nightmares or bedwetting will often cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night. Sufferers who are having frequent nightmares might also be unwilling or unable to fall asleep. A PTSD patient may also have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep if he is anxious or jumpy, which are also symptoms of PTSD. This effect of PTSD on sleep is often referred to as insomnia.

Someone who has PTSD from a natural disaster may have recurring nightmares about it happening again.
Someone who has PTSD from a natural disaster may have recurring nightmares about it happening again.

The effects of PTSD on sleep will often result in tiredness during the day. This can make it very difficult for a person to concentrate on normal everyday tasks. A person who does not get enough restful sleep at night may also become very irritable. These behaviors can effect performance in work or school, as well as personal relationships.

Treatment for PTSD is often very successful. Behavioral therapy, along with personal and family counseling, is usually recommended for PTSD sufferers. A number of medications, including tranquilizers, can also be used in conjunction with therapy and counseling to treat the effects of PTSD on sleep.

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Discussion Comments

Lostnfound

"Busy brain" syndrome is another thing that affects people with PTSD. They may be tired and not necessarily prone to nightmares, but they can't "turn their brains off." That is, they're unable to relax enough to sleep, or become obsessed with a disturbing thought that keeps them from sleeping. It may be something simple, like how they will pay the light bill, but it consumes their thoughts and makes them unable to doze off.

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    • Children suffering from PTSD may experience difficulty sleeping.
      Children suffering from PTSD may experience difficulty sleeping.
    • Many people with PTSD often have nightmares.
      Many people with PTSD often have nightmares.
    • Severe nightmares or bedwetting will often cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night.
      Severe nightmares or bedwetting will often cause a person to wake up in the middle of the night.
    • Nightmares can lead to insomnia for some children with PTSD.
      Nightmares can lead to insomnia for some children with PTSD.
    • Someone who has PTSD from a natural disaster may have recurring nightmares about it happening again.
      Someone who has PTSD from a natural disaster may have recurring nightmares about it happening again.