Sleep & PTSD: What Are Some Of The Related Effects?

1st June , 2021

Trauma is an experience that has long-lasting effects on one’s physical, cognitive and mental well-being and ability to function. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event. A single traumatic event can lead to enduring psychological effects that may manifest as depressing thoughts, feelings, and dreams. 

How can PTSD affect sleep?

Research has shown that sleep issues and disorders are very common after traumatic experiences. Many people who have PTSD may go through a disruptive sleep cycle and bouts of insomnia. Persistent alertness and hyperarousal related to the effects of the body’s stress response often lead to a lack of sleep. People with PTSD may find themselves waking up frequently during the night, have trouble going back to sleep, or may wake up earlier than they planned. Even if they manage to fall asleep, sleep quality is often severely compromised due to stressful dreams and hallucinations. 

Trauma can also significantly affect the quality and nature of sleep. It can modify how the body reacts and responds to various stimuli that we usually ignore when we sleep. The rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep, which is important for storing memories and processing emotions, is the most affected phase. For those troubled by post-traumatic stress disorder, the dreams that occur during REM sleep are more fantastical and bizarre, usually causing the person to wake up in the middle of the sleep. Sleep researchers say that trauma-related dreams are caused by the brain’s fear response combined with stress and hyperarousal and may represent the mind recreating and recalling the experience to make sense of it. Making changes in the environment and equipment may help you sleep better at night. One may consider proper sleep-friendly lighting or a high-quality foam mattress to achieve the best results.

How to sleep better with PTSD?

Firstly, seeing a trauma therapist to cope with the disorder is very important. Depending on the extent of trauma, one might also need to seek medical attention. Since sleep disorders are caused by the disorder, dealing with the cause is vital to moving forward. Working with a doctor, counsellor, or therapist can help you create reasonable, achievable goals for coping with sleep issues. 

Focusing on your comfort is an essential aspect of gaining back proper sleep after a traumatic event. PTSD often makes the body feel unsafe, making it more difficult for the person to fall asleep. Making some changes in the environment may help one fall asleep faster due to the perception of safety and comfort. A good quality mattress that can be bought from stores in Dubai can immediately facilitate better sleep. 

Relaxing the body can be an effective way to combat bad sleep. Some exercises can trigger the body’s relaxation responses, which helps with the quality and length of sleep. A comfortable mattress can also trigger these responses and help you achieve a healthy sleep cycle. Thus, medical assistance must be complemented with the right equipment, including a quality mattress, to ensure a good night’s sleep.

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