Trauma & Sleep Disorders: How Trauma Affects Sleep

Updated on July 12, 2019
 

Trauma is defined as a physically or psychologically damaging event. Unfortunately, the majority of people will experience trauma at some point in their lives. For many, these traumas can create lasting health effects related to sleep, including insomnia.

Past trauma and trouble sleeping are closely linked, with the vast majority of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers also experiencing sleep disturbances. In fact, a 2006 study found that “Subjective reports of sleep disturbance indicate that 70-91 percent of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have difficulty falling or staying asleep.”

Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects millions of people around the world. It’s thought to affect more than 7 percent of American adults at some point in their lives. Based on the clinical findings, it’s likely that the vast majority of these PTSD sufferers also struggle to get good quality sleep.

This article will discuss the connection between trauma and sleep. It will explain clinical findings of how PTSD can affect our sleep, and lay out options for PTSD sufferers looking to improve sleep quality.

What is Trauma?

When someone has an experience that’s very disturbing, life-threatening, or otherwise significantly harmful to their physical and psychological well-being, they go through what we call a “trauma.” Trauma can be limited to a one-time event or can happen repeatedly, over a long period of time. That means war, accidents, sexual assault, physical assault, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, death, and injuries are all examples of the many experiences that fall under the umbrella of “traumatic events.”

People and their bodies respond in a lot of different ways to trauma, just one of which may be PTSD. Immediate responses that are common and normal include:

  • Negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, and being “on edge”
  • Issues with sleep
  • Issues with concentration and cognition
  • Obsessive thoughts about the experience
  • Upsetting memories of the experience

For most people, these responses are short-term, and they can resume living like how they did before the traumatic event relatively soon. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, some people develop psychological and physical symptoms that interfere with their well-being and indicate they need professional help:

  • Experiencing any of the previously mentioned responses for longer than 30 days
  • Overly emotional responses to everyday events
  • Flash-backs, nightmares, and night terrors
  • Chronic fatigue, pain or headaches
  • Digestive issues, nausea
  • Numbness, withdrawal or personality shifts
  • Stress responses like a racing heart, sweating, and jumpiness

Most people, even if they do end up needing some type of medical care for their trauma, never end up getting PTSD. But for around 7-8% of the U.S. population, their symptoms last long enough and become severe enough to be diagnosed as PTSD.

What Are the Causes of Trauma?

There are two basic types of trauma: Physical trauma and psychological trauma. In many cases, the victim can experience both forms of trauma at the same time. Physical trauma involves bodily harm. In the medical community, the term usually refers to very severe injuries, but technically any injury could cause trauma. Psychological trauma involves damage to the human psyche caused by experiencing or witnessing an emotionally upsetting event. Examples of traumatic events include:

  • Physical assault or violence
  • Witnessing or participating in military violence
  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Physical, emotional or verbal abuse
  • Natural disasters, accidents or loss of a loved one
  • Traumatic brain injuries

These are just a few examples – practically any significant event could potentially cause trauma. Life experiences that are traumatic for one person may not be for another. Furthermore, trauma affects people in different ways and symptoms can manifest differently.

Trauma affects people in starkly different ways. Some people will go on to develop symptoms of clinical PTSD, while others will show no symptoms at all. A 2014 book called Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services noted that “The impact of trauma can be subtle, insidious, or outright destructive”.

With so much variation in both causation and symptoms, correctly identifying conditions associated with trauma can be challenging. While conditions like PTSD affect millions of people, it’s likely that many more have the condition but have not been diagnosed.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is believed to affect around 8 million Americans every year, according to the National Center of PTSD. It is not a mental illness, reports PTSD UK, but instead the result of physical changes to someone’s brain after they experience trauma. The parts of the brain injured by PTSD can include:

  • The prefrontal lobe: the language center, making it hard for some PTSD patients to articulate their feelings and experiences
  • The amygdala: critical for regulating emotion, making it hard for some PTSD patients to control or understand their feelings
  • The hippocampus: the center of memory management and processing, meaning some PTSD patients suffer short-term memory loss
  • The medial prefrontal cortex: the cortex that manages fear responses, making some PTSD patients hyperaroused and feeling inappropriately scared

The medical community does not fully understand the mechanisms behind why PTSD develops, although there are some theories. One prevalent theory is that by continually reliving past traumas, we are better able to avoid similar dangerous situations in the future. In other words, PTSD may be a survival mechanism of sorts.

There are also physiological reasons for PTSD symptoms. PTSD sufferers often have high levels of adrenaline, which can cause tension, irritability, and trouble sleeping (many of the primary symptoms of the disorder). Adrenaline is a hormone that is produced when we are under stress, and researchers now believe that reliving traumatic experiences can keep adrenaline levels permanently elevated. Additionally, high levels of adrenaline can affect the proper functioning of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that processes memory. Because the traumatic memories cannot be processed, they are continually relived in flashbacks and nightmares.

PTSD can also develop as a result of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. In addition to affecting people from a range of backgrounds and situations, PTSD can develop any time after someone experiences a traumatic event, from immediately after to months, or even years, in the future.

PTSD Diagnosis

Generally speaking, for someone to be diagnosed with PTSD, they have to experience the symptoms for more than four weeks, or to such a degree that it interferes with their daily life. There are many PTSD symptoms, all of which fall under four main categories, according to the National Center of PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing symptoms. PTSD patients relive the event emotionally and psychologically. These include nightmares and flash-backs, and can be triggered by a variety of sights, smells, and other sensory input that reminds you of the event.
  • Symptoms of avoidance. PTSD patients go out of their way to avoid these mental and physical triggers.
  • Significant, negative changes to PTSD patients’ thoughts and beliefs. Some examples include how they approach relationships with other people, their feelings about things they used to enjoy, or problems remembering things.
  • Symptoms of hyperarousal and hypervigilance. Some PTSD patients constantly respond to a danger that isn’t there. Some examples include feeling scared, suffering from anxiety, and behaving as though they’re under attack.

As you might imagine, a lot of these symptoms either directly include issues with sleep, or can lead to issues with sleep. Someone who has nightmares every night, someone who can’t sleep alone but has trouble with physical touch, and someone who is hypervigilant to the point that they can’t fall asleep are all a few examples of the different ways PTSD can lead to chronic sleep deprivation. Furthermore, a lot of these symptoms either directly include or can lead to anxiety, which can also be a major factor in sleep deprivation. And with PTSD and anxiety worsened by a lack of sleep, being sleep deprived while living with these conditions can become a vicious cycle.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from a violent blow to the head, or an extreme jolt to the body. Car accidents, combat incidents, falls and sports accidents can all cause TBI. The condition is common, with 1.6 to 3 million cases per year in the United States alone.

In many cases, TBI can lead to PTSD, because the events that can cause a significant brain injury are generally quite traumatic. However, TBI does not necessarily cause PTSD, although it may cause similar symptoms. As the two conditions can share symptoms, they are often confused – but it’s important to understand the differences.

Traumatic brain injury can cause symptoms including:

  • Vertigo, confusion and disorientation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chronic headaches or fatigue
  • Sensory problems, like blurred vision
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Anxiety, depression and insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech

There are a large variety of TBI symptoms, and the specific signs will vary depending on the severity of the injury. There are typically two classes of TBI: mild, and moderate to severe. Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can cause significant side effects that could even be life-threatening. For instance, severe TBI can cause seizures, and can even cause a patient to enter a coma or vegetative state. On the other hand, the symptoms of mild TBI are generally more manageable with routine treatment.

Traumatic brain injury can often cause sleep problems. According to a 2013 study, up to 70 percent of individuals with traumatic brain injury may also experience sleep disturbances. The most frequent sleep issues associated with TBI include insomnia, fatigue and narcolepsy.

Symptoms of TBI can often be confused with symptoms of PTSD. Although TBI can lead to post traumatic stress disorder, the two conditions are completely separate and do not always co-occur. Proper diagnosis of the correct condition requires medical expertise.

Trauma’s Impact on Children

As mentioned earlier, trauma, PTSD, and TBIs can all happen to anyone, regardless of age. But that doesn’t mean the symptoms present the same at every age. In fact, preschoolers, elementary school students, and middle and high schoolers all react differently to trauma.

TBIs in Children

TBIs both look and manifest differently in children and adults. Since children’s brains are still developing, states the Brain Injury Association of America, a TBI will do far greater damage to a child’s brain, impairing their thinking, learning, and social skills. That said, this may not be clear for a while since it can take years for TBI symptoms to show up.

Even so, the CDC warns that if a child presents any of these symptoms of a possible TBI, then they should receive emergency medical treatment immediately:

  • A “bump, blow, or jolt” to their head or body
  • The danger signs of a TBI for adults
  • Refusing to stop crying
  • Refusing to nurse or eat

Trauma Expressions by Age

PTSD also presents slightly differently in children. According to Stanford Children’s Health, some child-specific symptoms of PTSD can include reenacting traumatic events, having trouble in school, and regressing to more childish behavior like thumb-sucking and bed-wetting. When it comes to diagnosis, too, criteria is more detailed for children. This is partly because PTSD and ADD/ADHD have several overlapping symptoms, and can be mistaken for each other, the CDC reports.

In children six years old and younger, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, children can also be diagnosed with PTSD if they’ve witnessed the traumatic event happen to someone else or learn it happened to their caregiver, even if they haven’t experienced it directly themselves. They also need to show at least one of five re-experiencing symptoms (including re-enactments and very intense flashbacks), at least one of five symptoms of avoidance or negative changes to their feelings (including social withdrawal and avoiding a triggering place), and at least two hyperarousal symptoms (including sleep issues and aggressive behavior).

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, preschoolers may have fears about being separated from their parents or guardians, frequently cry and scream, lose weight from not eating well, and get nightmares. Meanwhile, kids in elementary school may develop anxiety, fear, feelings of guilt or shame, issues with concentration, and sleep issues. Finally, middle and high school-aged children may develop depression, feelings of loneliness, eating disorders, and self-harm behaviors, as well as start to abuse substances or become sexually active.

Trauma and PTSD can have significant effects on sleep quality. Patients experiencing PTSD symptoms may find that it’s difficult to get to sleep, and even harder to get a full night’s rest. The vast majority of PTSD patients also experience sleep issues, with one study reporting that more than 70  percent of PTSD patients reported sleep disturbances. There are a number of reasons why PTSD sufferers may struggle with sleep.

Nightmares

Nightmares and flashbacks are very common in PTSD sufferers. Nightmares can cause frequent arousals, which reduce sleep quality. They can also make it more difficult to get to sleep, and contribute to a general sense of anxiety about sleep itself. In one clinical trial, more than 70 percent of veterans in the study reported regular nightmares. Another found that 52 percent of Vietnam veterans with PTSD had nightmares fairly often, compared to only 3 percent of civilians surveyed.

Worry and Anxiety

People with PTSD often worry about their own safety, and/or experience general anxiety. This can make it very difficult to get to sleep, as negative thoughts and emotions swirl. Anxiety levels are closely linked to sleep quality among the entire population, and the effect is particularly acute for PTSD patients.

Insomnia

Many PTSD sufferers experience full-blown insomnia, making it nearly impossible to get restful sleep. In fact, one analysis found that insomnia was the most-reported symptom of military veterans with PTSD.

Hypervigilance

Many PTSD sufferers report feeling like they are always on alert or “on the lookout”. Research has shown that PTSD patients have an elevated “fight or flight” response. This is a stress-driven response to a past trauma which is part of your body’s way of attempting to protect you from future similar danger. Unfortunately, it can make it very difficult to get to sleep, and even when you get to sleep you may be aroused easily by sounds.

Substance Abuse

Many people who have experienced a significant trauma in their past turn to drugs and alcohol to help deal with the symptoms. Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol can significantly reduce sleep quality.

Even if PTSD is not formally diagnosed, individuals with past trauma can still experience significant difficulty with sleeping. To make matters worse, insomnia and related symptoms tend to build on themselves.

The frequent sleep disturbances that PTSD sufferers endure can lead to PTSD sleep deprivation and even full-blown insomnia. Unfortunately, this only worsens the symptoms, as sleep deprivation contributes to anxiety, while anxiety can further exacerbate PTSD symptoms. In other words, a lack of sleep makes it even more difficult to get quality sleep in the future.

Many people with trauma in their past feel trapped in a cycle of poor sleep with no end in sight. And indeed, without treatment of the underlying conditions, this cycle can continue indefinitely. It’s vital for PTSD sufferers to seek the help of medical professionals to help address the underlying conditions related to sleep disturbances.

While most of these sleep disturbances are simply symptoms of PTSD itself, in other situations the disorder can actually contribute to the risk of separate sleep disorders including sleep apnea.

PTSD and Sleep Apnea

Researchers have uncovered a link between PTSD and sleep apnea. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine noted that 69 percent of participants who had PTSD were considered a high risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea. The study also noted that as the severity of PTSD increased, so too did the risk factors for sleep apnea.

This is another reason to address PTSD symptoms as early as possible, as the disorder may lead to an increased risk for other health concerns. The director of the PTSD Consultation Program at the National Center for PTSD, Sonya Norman, PhD, noted that “This is critical information because sleep apnea is a risk factor for a long list of health problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and psychological problems including depression, worsening PTSD and anxiety.”

Unfortunately, researchers found that younger veterans with PTSD often aren’t screened for sleep apnea, so many don’t get diagnosed and can’t receive the right treatment (usually a device, like a CPAP machine, that keeps the patient’s throat open).

Researchers are still working to understand the mechanisms behind this link between sleep apnea and PTSD. However, some likely contributing factors include prolonged sleep deprivation due to PTSD, hyperarousal due to the psychological stressors of military combat, and disturbed sleep during military service.

Sleep Help for People with Trauma Disorders

If you have a trauma disorder such as PTSD, there are steps you can take to try to improve your sleep quality. This starts with addressing the root cause of the disruptions: PTSD itself.

Please remember that while our guide is thorough and well-researched, it is not a replacement for medical advice. Always consult your doctor or qualified physician with any questions or concerns you have regarding medical conditions, treatments, and advice.

Treatment for PTSD

Treatments for PTSD come in a number of forms, from different types of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapies, to trauma-focused exposure therapies, to medication. In some, people may expose themselves to triggers related to the traumatic event, try to change their thoughts and feelings about the traumatic event, put the traumatic event into words, or otherwise try to process the traumatic event.

The top four most supported treatments, according to the National Center of PTSD, are Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing, Prolonged Exposure, and SSRI/SNRIs, two types of antidepressant medications.

Cognitive Processing Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing
Prolonged Exposure
Medication SSRI/SNRI
Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive processing therapy is a specialized type of cognitive behavioral therapy used specifically for PTSD. The practice aims to help patients learn how to challenge unhelpful beliefs related to past trauma. Ideally, this helps the patient to create a new understanding of the traumatic experience.

Cognitive processing therapy is generally practiced over twelve in-person sessions with a psychotherapist. Individual and group sessions are generally available, depending on patient preference. The process begins with learning about the relationship between PTSD and thoughts and emotional processing. Next, the patient begins to process the complex emotions associated with the trauma. Finally, the patient will use their newfound skills to continue evaluating and modifying beliefs surrounding their past trauma.

Cognitive processing therapy is considered effective for PTSD treatment. Approximately 53 percent of patients who receive treatment of this type will overcome their PTSD. Risks include discomfort while discussing or thinking about past trauma.

Type of Treatment: Psychotherapy – Reframe negative thoughts

What’s Required: CPT involves talking about and writing down your thoughts, doing structured worksheets, and develop different strategies with your therapist for dealing with negative trauma-related thoughts and feelings.

Effectiveness: In a study, Veterans Affairs found that 53% of people who received CPT no longer had PTSD after the three-month mark.

Length of Treatment: Treatment consists of 12 weekly 60-90 minute sessions, spread out over 3 months or so.

Risks: The only risk posed by CPT is “mild to moderate discomfort” during the talking and writing parts of the therapy.

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization & reprocessing therapy, also known as EMDR, is another popular option for PTSD treatment. EMDR is a unique form of psychotherapy that aims to help the patient make sense of their trauma.

The process involves thinking about the trauma while focusing on an external sound or motion. Sessions are individual and usually take place weekly over 2-3 months. The patient does not necessarily need to talk about the trauma openly, but they must call it to mind repeatedly while undergoing treatment.

EMDR is effective at addressing PTSD. 53 percent of patients who undergo the therapy no longer experience symptoms of PTSD. Risks include discomfort while discussing or thinking about past trauma.

Type of Treatment: Psychotherapy – Make sense of your trauma

What’s Required: In EMDR, patients are asked to envision the traumatic event while focusing on a back-and-forth movement or sound.

Effectiveness: In a study, Veterans Affairs found that 53% of people who received EMDR no longer had PTSD after the three-month mark.

Length of Treatment: Treatment consists of 1-3 month weekly 50-90 minute sessions.

Risks: The only risk posed by EMDR is “brief” feelings of discomfort when thinking about the trauma.

Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged exposure therapy is another form of psychotherapy that is used to address PTSD. It aims to help the patient face their fears repeatedly, gradually showing that trauma-related memories and emotions are not inherently dangerous.

The therapy will take place during weekly individual sessions for around 3 months. Patients will talk about their trauma with the therapist, and revisit the triggers and emotions that they have been avoiding. The goal is to help patients rationalize the experiences, emotions, and thoughts that they have been avoiding, to help them return to a more peaceful state of mind.

PE is considered effective. Around 52 percent of patients who receive similar treatment no longer suffer from PTSD. Risks include discomfort while discussing or thinking about past trauma.

Type of Treatment: Psychotherapy – Face your fears and gain control

What’s Required: PE involves talking about the traumatic event and doing safe activities the patient has been avoiding after the event.

Effectiveness: In a study, Veterans Affairs found that 53% of people who received PE no longer had PTSD after the three-month mark.

Length of Treatment: Treatment consists of 15-18 weekly 90-minute sessions.

Risks: The risks posed by PE are: “mild to moderate discomfort” when talking about the trauma, discomfort when resuming previously avoided activities, and the possibility that someone may listen to your recording

Medication SSRI/SNRI

Medication for PTSD is also sometimes used to address symptoms. Common medications used include antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

The aim of these medications is to restore the balance of naturally occurring chemicals in the patient’s brain. It’s a simple treatment option, only requiring the patient to take a pill daily. With that said, medications have a lower success rate overall than trauma-based psychotherapy treatments.

Around 42 percent of patients who are put on these medications no longer experience PTSD symptoms. However, symptoms may return if medication use is discontinued. These medications have a relatively high risk of side effects, as well, with commonly reported effects including upset stomach, sweating, headache, and dizziness. There are also some experimental treatment options that fall into this category. The use of cannabis and MDMA, two psychoactive drugs that remain federally illegal at this time, is being explored in early-stage clinical trials. There have been medical trials exploring MDMA for PTSD as well as cannabis for PTSD. However, this is an emerging area of medical science, and much more research is required.

Type of Treatment: Medication – In this course of treatment, patients take an antidepressant in either SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) form.

What’s Required: Commit to taking medication as directed – a daily dose of SSRIs or SNRIs. Most commonly Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, or Effexor.

Effectiveness: In a study, Veterans Affairs found that 42% of people who received PE no longer had PTSD after the three-month mark.

Length of Treatment: Duration depends on what the patient and their doctor decide – symptoms may return after medication is stopped. Patients tend to feel better after 6-8 weeks, but may need to continue taking medication.

Risks: The risks include a range of antidepressant side effects, from sexual side effects, upset stomach, dizziness, sweating, headaches, and dry mouth.

Treatment for TBIs

In the case of traumatic brain injury, treatment options may differ. The most common options include light therapy, CPAP/BiPAP therapy, and acupuncture.

Light Therapy
CPAP/BiPAP Therapy
Acupuncture
Light Therapy

Light therapy is often used for mild TBIs. The treatment consists of staying near a bright light, usually a near-infrared or bright blue light. Light therapy is thought to have neuroregenerative effects, helping the brain to heal itself. Research suggests that daily blue wavelength light therapy may help to improve sleep and reduce fatigue in patients with mild TBI.

Most light therapy treatments can be self-applied at home. There are various setups, including bright lamps to place near your bed, and lights that you physically strap to your head. Most treatment regimens recommend daily application of light therapy.

CPAP/BiPAP Therapy

TBI is closely associated with various sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. In cases where sleep apnea is diagnosed, CPAP or BiPAP therapy may be effective.

This form of therapy requires the nightly use of either a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine. Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, the patient will receive a prescription to purchase a CPAP machine or BiPAP machine (depending on the recommendations of a sleep doctor). CPAP is the most common, although BiPAP may be more effective for some people.

These machines work by helping the user to breath more consistently at night. The user wears a mask connected to the machine, and air is continuously applied at high pressure to prevent lapses in breathing. CPAP therapy is effective, but only in situations where sleep apnea has been diagnosed.

Acupuncture

A type of alternative medicine with traditional Chinese roots, acupuncture has had a surprising number of studies done on its success in treating TBI symptoms. In this treatment, patients lie still while doctors insert superficial needles at designated parts of their body. The frequency and length of the treatment depend on the patient, with the Mayo Clinic describing a common course of treatment as once-to-twice weekly half-hour sessions across 6-8 weeks. A study done in 2015 that followed a single patient found acupuncture improved his worst TBI symptoms (including issues speaking and walking) after four years.

Additional Treatments for Sleep

Another way to sleep better while living with trauma, PTSD, and TBIs is to work on treating your sleep issues first. Additional treatments that focus on sleep, rather than their underlying conditions, include Image Rehearsal Therapy, Sleep Restriction, and Meditation and Relaxation Therapy.

Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT)
Sleep Restriction
Meditation & Relaxation Therapy
Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT)

Imagery rehearsal therapy is an interesting technique that’s used to reduce the frequency and intensity of chronic nightmares. Working with a therapist, the patient will write down alternative, non-threatening endings to chronic nightmares they have been having. The patient will then rehearse the new version of the nightmare, which helps to imprint the new version into the brain’s memory.

IRT is considered effective for PTSD patients suffering from chronic nightmares. One study of sexual assault survivors found that IRT significantly reduced the nights per week with nightmares as well as the total number of nightmares per week. Keep in mind that this form of therapy only addresses nightmares, and is unlikely to improve other PTSD symptoms.

Sleep Restriction

Aimed at people who struggle with insomnia, this therapy actually limits how long people spend in bed, not how long they sleep. A major part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (or CBT-I), its goal is to reduce how many times someone wakes up overnight. According to Stanford Health Care, the patient starts off by cutting their sleep down to, at minimum, 5.5 hours. Then, they add 15 to 30 minutes to their sleep time every week. The National Institute of Health considers CBT-I a safe and effective insomnia treatment.

This strategy aims to reduce the time spent in bed while not asleep. Essentially, a time limit is set based on the amount of actual sleep a person gets per night. For example, if you sleep on average 6 hours per night, you would set a time limit for 6 hours spent in bed. Instead of laying in bed for 8 hours but only getting 6 hours of sleep, your body adapts to spend the whole time sleeping. Over time, the time limit is increased to allow for a full night’s sleep.

Sleep restriction is considered effective, but it can be difficult to stick to a set schedule. This method requires significant willpower.

Meditation & Relaxation Therapy

Holistic health practices such as meditation and relaxation techniques may also help to improve sleep in PTSD patients. These techniques help to relax the mind, and may also help improve a person’s ability to cope with stress.

Meditation and other relaxation techniques can prove effective for improving sleep quality. Meditation, in particular, is thought to significantly improve various PTSD symptoms. More research is needed.

Learn More About Trauma and Sleep

For parents of children with PTSD, check out KidsHealth.org. This resource guide explores all aspects of PTSD from the perspective of parents of trauma-affected children.

For parents of children who have experienced trauma, check out the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This organization compiles resources and provides services to children who have experienced significant trauma.

For veterans with PTSD, check out the VA’s PTSD resources. This article explores the relationship between sleep and PTSD, focusing specifically on aspects relevant for veterans.

For PTSD patients looking for treatment options, check out the PTSD decision guide from the VA. This resource compares and explains the most popular PTSD treatment options.

For those interested in reading PTSD and sleep-related medical studies, check out this resource from the National Center for PTSD. The PDF resource gives an overview of the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep, and links out to many relevant clinical studies.

For those interested in using meditation to improve sleep, check out Mindful.org. This nonprofit aims to help individuals become more mindful through the ongoing practice of meditation.

For individuals and families looking for mental health resources, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI provides resources and learning materials for all types of mental health concerns, including PTSD.

For those interested in using technology to improve sleep, check out our list of the best sleep apps for 2019. The list focuses on apps for insomnia and trouble sleeping.

For PTSD sufferers looking for a qualified therapist, check out this WebMD guide on how to find a mental health professional. The article covers tips and tricks on how to go about finding the right therapist for you.

For PTSD patients looking for a peer support group, check out this resource from the VA. The article explains how peer group works, and where to find them.