Add post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the remarkable list of physical (and mental) woes that could possibly be helped through appropriate sleep medicine. Robert Rosenberg, DO, makes the point in an article entitled, Looking to Stop PTSD Nightmares? Sleep Apnea Treatment Could Help.
More than a quarter of American veterans may have PTSD, and Rosenberg points out that up to 12% of all American women have PTSD — most resulting from physical and sexual abuse. “Studies done on both returning veterans and sexually abused women have shown a very high incidence of sleep apnea in those that have PTSD,” writes Rosenberg. “In fact, most of the studies found that over 50 percent had PTSD — much higher than the average population. Why patients with PTSD are more likely to have sleep apnea remains unknown at this time. However, the fact they do is indisputable.”
Rosenberg’s contention stems from a study originating from the University of Mississippi, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. “They studied 69 veterans with sleep apnea and PTSD for one year,” explains Rosenberg. “The findings were very encouraging. Those veterans who were compliant with their sleep apnea treatment (continuous positive airway pressure treatment, or CPAP) exhibited a 50 percent drop in the number of nightmares they experienced per week. In fact, for every 10 percent increase in usage above the median, there was a further drop of about 10 percent in nightmare frequency. As expected, these veterans also reported feeling more rested and less fatigued.”