Occasional insomnia affects everyone, and it’s a rare person who has not experienced trouble falling sleeping or staying asleep through the night. If you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (”PTSD”), your sleep problems are likely beyond a diagnosis of occasional or standard insomnia. Sleep disruptions will occur at random, without predictable patterns. You might experience night terrors and flashbacks. Darkness and silence can increase your sense of vigilance increasing concern over lurking dangers, furthering problems with anxiety and depression. Nightmares can jolt you awake and make it difficult for you to get back to sleep. Your PTSD-induced sleep problems will lead to a chronic sense of fatigue during your day. If you try to address that fatigue by taking naps or using alcohol, drugs or other sedatives, your sleep problems will only get worse.
Standard insomnia treatments will treat the symptoms but not the cause of your sleep problems if you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD. Still, you should not ignore those treatments because getting a good night’s sleep will help other efforts that you are making to address your PTSD. To treat insomnia, sleep experts recommend avoiding coffee and large, fatty meals during the four- to six-hours before you go to bed. Turn off your television and other electronic devices. Establish a routine that you find relaxing and make your sleep environment warm and welcoming. Go to bed when you are tired, which may or may not be at the same time every evening.
Establishing habits more conducive to regular sleep will sustain you for addressing your PTSD in therapy. PTSD goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression disorders, and your sleep problems may be more of a symptom of those disorders than they are standalone issues by themselves. Your counselors might recommend cognitive behavioral or exposure therapy, which can help you change the way you think about the trauma that led to your PTSD. If your PTSD symptoms are more severe, your therapists may suggest antidepressants or other pharmaceuticals that will aid you in being able to face the difficult process of healing past trauma.
The staff and counselors at Last Resort have extensive experience with treating PTSD and co-occurring issues. If you think you may be suffering from PTSD and need help call us today at 877-892-7997.