How Might Sleep and Trauma Be Related?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

woman awake in bed

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is “a disorder that develops in some people who have experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” It’s very natural to feel afraid during a traumatic event, but some people carry those feelings over time, manifesting in the form of nightmares or unwanted memories, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, anxiety, paranoia, agitation, depression, and more. Nearly 5.2 million people are estimated to experience PTSD in a given year. While symptoms of PTSD can affect work, school, and home life, they can worsen if adequate sleep is lost.

The National Center for PTSD has identified several reasons for why people with PTSD may have sleeping problems:

  • Constantly feeling “alert”
  • Incessant worrying or negative thoughts
  • Use of substances
  • Nightmares
  • Medical problems such as chronic pain, stomach problems, etc.

While symptoms of PTSD can cause sleeping problems, research has also found that sleeping problems can exacerbate symptoms of PTSD. A 2016 study published in the journal Health Psychology found that initial sleeping problems are associated with increased PTSD, depression, and intrapersonal resource loss – otherwise considered as having a sense of control over one’s life, hope, and the feeling as though one is a successful person. How is it that these areas increase?

As a multiple core survival function, sleep provides us with the energy we need to cope with problems, think clearly, make wise decisions, etc. A lack of sleep, whether initially shown as a problem or as a derivation of PTSD, can cause a person to experience greater vulnerability to psychological distress. When this happens, a person is more likely to utilize unhealthy coping strategies to deal with problems such as re-experiencing the event in the mind, hyperarousal, depression, and a lack of intrapersonal resources.

If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of PTSD, make the decision to speak with a professional at a reputable treatment center today. Recovery is possible, and there are many tools you can use to move forward with your life.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.


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