PTSD Study May Link Sleep Disorders to Veterans


A study published in July 2016, by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, examines U.S. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is considered to be a mental health condition that develops after exposure to a traumatic event and can cause sleep disorders. These have been the chief complaints from over 9 million veterans.

Sleep Disorders

  • Sleep apnea consists of shallow breathing or moments of brief pauses of oxygen flow throughout the night.
  • Insomnia causes a person to have a toilsome time falling asleep or inability to stay asleep.

A representative from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs stated: “Veterans with PTSD, who engage in strenuous activities during daytime hours such as exercising, may have an easier transition to smoother sleep patterns over time.” Limiting the number of caffeine products consumed at least two hours before bedtime may also help with transitioning to sleep comfortably without taking prescribed medication.


Often, veterans suffering from sleep apnea are prescribed Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy nightly for maximum relief. CPAP therapy includes wearing a face mask during rest, which maintains a clear airway passage by providing a stream of air while one is asleep.

Eurekalert highlights that with continuous use, therapy proves to be effective without using mind altering medications.

A study re-evaluating the effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy on veterans suffering from sleep apnea, suggest that veterans who used the treatment at least four times a week, saw a dramatic change in over 65% of their night’s sleep.

Over the years, researchers have noticed that veterans taking drugs to treat their PTSD have a greater chance of enduring severe side effects. Doctors commonly prescribe antidepressants (Zoloft), antihypertensive drugs (Prazosin), and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (Phenelzine). Common side effects include:

  • increased suicidal thoughts
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • cotton mouth
  • nausea

Unfortunately, many veterans who experience the stress disorder, generally suffer from sporadic clusters of insomnia. The inability to remain asleep throughout the night can stress the individual and heighten the effects of broken sleep in a different way nightly.

According to the Recovery Ranch:

The Journal of Traumatic Stress, conducted a study evaluating the relationship that may link PTSD and sleep disorders such as insomnia. Research from the study concluded that individuals suffering from PTSD and insomnia engaged in unpredictable sleep habits in comparison to those suffering from only insomnia. Many veterans battling PTSD and insomnia are often misdiagnosed primarily for insomnia.

Many studies suggest that there may be a significant correlation between veterans with PTSD and sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia. Researchers are scouting multiple avenues to treat veterans without having to take mind altering medications that can have severe side effects when taken over an extended period.

By Jhayla D. Tyson
Edited by Jeanette Smith


American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Prevalence of Diagnosed Sleep Disorders has Risen Among US Veterans
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Understanding the facts
Eurekalert: Study Finds that CPAP Therapy Reduces Acid Reflux in people with Sleep Apnea
Medical Daily: Different Types of Anxiety Disorders: How OCD, Social Anxiety, and More Afflict Well-Being
Recovery Ranch: PTSD- Related Sleep Problems Far Different From Insomnia
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: PTSD: National Center for PTSD

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of US Army Africa’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Rachel Tayse’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

2 Responses to "PTSD Study May Link Sleep Disorders to Veterans"

  1. Jhayla D. Tyson   October 17, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Thus far, the research shows that approximately 200,000 new cases of sleep apnea are reported to the CDC yearly, compared to approximately 23% of all U.S. Veterans who endured combat. The studies referenced used combative veterans versus the general population. One may conclude that about 1 out of 4 veterans suffer from sleep apnea. I personally believe that the toxins and fumes breathed in makes one more prone to developing sleep apnea.

  2. Questioning   October 15, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Is Sleep Apnea more common in veterans than in the general population? Is Sleep Apnea more common in combat veterans than in in veterans who have not seen combat?

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