Post-Traumatic Stress and Sleep

Post-traumatic stress.  This is 1 of those things that I read about. You know, things that happen to other people. Importantly, I think it is 1 of those things that you need to go through to really understand what it is to go through it. Brings a whole new level of understanding. Just to put it all into perspective let me tell you what happened. Very recently my daughter and I were washed off a harbor peer by a rogue wave. It is by far the scariest thing that I have ever been through – an experience that triggered post-traumatic stress affecting my insomnia.

All 4 of us that were washed into the ocean survived. After a very dramatic day and some time in intensive care, we are physically on the mend. Needless to say that this has left a lot of trauma. My already bad sleeping habits have now absolutely gone to the dogs.

Going to sleep with post traumatic stress

Closing my eyes at the moment is really not my favorite thing. As when I do, it feels as though I am immersed in the water again. The color is turquoise and it takes me right back. This proves to be very problematic as I am yet to master the art of sleeping with my eyes open – a skill that would have greatly come in handy now. Alas, this has resulted in me needing to get medication from my doctor for short-term use, just to help me get some rest.

I find that watching a movie is helpful as it keeps my mind busy and I just fall asleep without closing my eyes consciously. This makes a difference. Most nights, though, are such a stressful time for me.

Multiple waking

So now instead of only waking the usual about of times a night, I awake in panic attack mode or feeling like I am suffocating. Falling asleep after that is nearly impossible. So then I have to get up, get my panic attack under control, and try to sleep again. This will happen multiple times a night at the moment and, it makes for many challenging nights. The culmination of nightmares and panic attacks while you are trying to get some rest is honestly just the most horrible thing.


Therapy is, apparently, along with a lot of time, going to help settle this down. I have been set up for weekly sessions and hopefully, this will bring some relief. I know that working through this will be hard. However, my meds are short term and I need to find a way to get to at least my normal insomnia patterns.

If you have been through something largely traumatic and it is affecting your sleep more than you normally do, please reach out to your doctor. Triggers for post-traumatic stress can take over your sleep patterns, affect insomnia, and really wreak havoc with your body. Be kind to yourself and makes sure that you eat well and get as much rest as possible.

Please share an episode you experienced that triggered post-traumatic stress and affected your insomnia in a comment.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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