Some people may wonder what Sleep Apnea and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have to do with each other? Well there been studies done that show a correlation between the two conditions. In fact it be more appropriate to say that Sleep Apnea falls beneath one of a multitude of symptoms that are used to determine Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. A good way to start to show the correlation would be to give clear definitions of each condition, than we will talk about how they are related.
PTSD is pretty much how it sounds. It is an extreme anxiety disorder that is coming from a very powerful event that occurs in someone’s life. The event could be a death of a close person, seeing someone being abused, being abused yourself or feelings of guilt because of a situation. It has most frequently associated with men and women in the military who spent some time in combat, but it is also associated with people who have been abused or are abusers. Many people who suffer from PTSD never enter into the deep sleep stage and have nightmare episodes during Rapid Eye Movement Sleep or REM sleep.
Sleep Apnea is a condition that occurs when a person is sleeping, yet stops breathing during sleep. It is caused by a physical blockage of the airway also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It can also be caused by miscommunication in the central nervous system, which is known as Central Sleep Apnea. One final type of the condition is Mixed Sleep Apnea which being affected by both conditions at the same time. You typically never enter into the deep sleep stage with Sleep Apnea; therefore a person with this condition is very tired all the time, physically and emotionally.
Research has found that when Sleep Apnea becomes pronounced in a person who has already been diagnosed, and then it is likely that the person will have flashbacks and nightmares associated with the PTSD. The researched also showed that having so many of the risk factors for Sleep Apnea- excessive weight, drinking alcohol, taking medication that affects the central nervous system, being a male and over the age of forty- that it was inevitable for the participant not to get Sleep Apnea.
Sleep Apnea made the PTSD worse because the patients were so tired that the past events of PTSD easily came back into their minds. Any techniques for dealing with the events were forgotten because they were so tired and the traumatic experiences became very real to them again. Once treatment was started for the Sleep Apnea, the research showed that the PTSD symptoms subsided very quickly and allowed the patients to get back to a less stressful time in their life where they were able to implement the skills learned to deal with the PTSD.