Post traumatic stress disorder is no longer a hush-hush topic, as military personnel continue to return from combat situations having to reintegrate into society. Their anxiety levels affect their sleep. Shallowness of breath during the night, waking up with nightmares from past stressful situations, and feeling as though they are always on guard are all factors that contribute to their sleep apnea. A recent study showed that almost two-thirds of soldiers returning from warlike action all had sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
- Alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
The distinction between people who have sleep apnea or PTSD is undermined by the fact that there are little to no discrepancies between the risk factors. Everything about PTSD is indicative in sleep apnea as well. Men and women who are in severe stressful situations tend to fall into sleep apnea patterning. Being jarred out of sleep at night due to lack of air, gasping for air at night, concentration or memory problems, headaches in the morning, and feeling tired and fatigued all day, these are the main symptoms of PTSD-induced sleep apnea.
Managing Your Sleep Apnea and PTSD
- Setting up a routine schedule – Sticking to a regular exercise and sleeping schedule helps tremendously. It is wise not to engage in strenuous exercise at least six hours prior to bedtime. Otherwise muscles and heart rate are likely to have difficulties calming down. Adopting a designated hour to go to bed and a designated hour to wake up will help your body get accustomed to sleeping soundly.
- Monitor eating and drinking habits – It is wise to document what you eat and at what time. Heavy fats or sugars prior to bedtime will disrupt your sleep, as your metabolism is too busy digesting and unable to allow your entire system to shut down. Avoid alcohol at if possible, as it can aggravate the effects of sleep apnea and make sleeping difficult.
- Adopting healthy sleeping protocols – Try to avoid or limit naps during the day, especially after 3 p.m. If you force yourself to sleep when you’re not actually tired, it will never work. Another option is if you find yourself waking up during the night, read a light book or have some chamomile tea. This will help your body to return to a peaceful state.
- Rest and relaxation – Make your bedroom surroundings as tranquil as possible. Soft lighting prior to bedtime, turning off all electronics that keep you wired, and engaging in some mindful breath work, meditation, or yoga will all contribute to a restful sleep.
Where to Go From Here
Being diagnosed from a qualified sleep treatment center. After we have determined your sleep problem and whether or not it’s related to PTSD, that’s when the patient has to learn about ways to improve the quality of their sleep. Some tactics can be as simple as paying more attention to dietary habits or reducing the use of tobacco products and possibly eliminating them altogether. In other cases, it may be a matter of determining if there is a history of other physical health problems in the family. Sleep apnea and PTSD issues can also be genetic, further complicating the diagnosis.
The End Result
Dr. Aldrich and the entire Riverbend Sleep team understands the physical toll a lack of sleep can take on your body. She will guide you on the path to wellness through healthy options and subsequent treatment of your underlying causes of PTSD and sleep apnea. We welcome your call and visit to help you get the comfortable sleep you deserve.