Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that emerges when a person has experienced or witnessed a highly traumatic event that overwhelms their psychological and physiological ability to cope, leading to changes in both the mind and the body as a result and in some cases unable to sleep due to bouts insomnia.
One of the key features of PTSD is a feeling of being emotional abnormal and is often accompanied by painful flashbacks of the traumatic event, great levels of anxiety plus stress, sometimes depressive states with a feeling of wanting to retreat from the world. 

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is defined as:

  1. Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping but not feeling restored;
  2. This difficulty is present even when you have the opportunity and circumstances that are conducive to sleep;
  3. Impaired sleep leads to daytime impairment or distress; and
  4. This happens at least 3 times per week and has been a problem for at least 1 month.

How can I help?

One of the key features of insomnia or sleep problems is that your waking and resting mechanisms in the nervous system go off track. People may suffer sleep disruptions because their response to stress actually temporarily ‘breaks’ the relaxation response and the panic about not sleeping can make this worse.
And whilst some people who aren’t sensitive sleepers can operate against the circadian rhythms of light and dark and still sleep well, many people who do have sleep problems simply can’t get away with this.
So part of what we learn is how to manage the nervous system’s response to stress so that we can actually remember how to drop off into sleep. Beyond that, insomnia and sleep problems can be a way to see that we are suffering from some sort of situational or physically-based anxious or depressive response.
Focusing on the sleep aspect gives us the chance to deal with relaxation, wakefulness, and re-balancing the approach to daily habits.  When we sleep better, we often start to see other conditions improve.