Insomnia, PTSD, and My Ideal Sleeping Environment
Last updated: September 2023
I am currently 34 and have lived with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) for about 15 years. Although I am not a medical professional, the difference between PTSD and C-PTSD is that with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, the trauma is ongoing. For example, my mental health condition is caused by my chronic illness.
How chronic illness can cause PTSD or C-PTSD
For anyone wondering how a chronic illness can cause PTSD or C-PTSD, I want to briefly explain before I move on. Since the age of 13, I have been in and out of the hospital, had 15 open abdominal surgeries (not exaggerating), countless procedures, among other things. THAT is traumatic in and of itself.
To add to it, up until 2013 when I moved, I wasn’t treated properly by many healthcare professionals. Mistakes were also made but that’s a story for another time.
Over time, I began to notice my anxiety becoming so bad that it was causing major insomnia. Initially, I could pinpoint why I was feeling anxious which really helped me mentally. However, when I began to not understand why I was so on edge, it only magnified my anxiety.
Impacts on physical and emotional health
This only made my physical and emotional health that much worse. And, my insomnia was exacerbated because I became so frustrated that I couldn’t help myself or seem to find anyone who understood what I was going through.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I started making it my mission to understand my brain and body. Insomnia was destroying my life and not understanding the reason behind it was driving me crazy.
A symptom of PTSD
Then it hit me. I was on edge 24/7 which I noticed was a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. The hypervigilance I experience makes it so if the conditions aren’t “perfect” (by my standards) for sleeping, I don’t have a chance.
What is my ideal sleeping environment?
My ideal sleeping environment includes:
- A soundproof room or being completely home alone to mitigate any unexpected noises that might shock me while I am trying to let my guard down.
- A dark, cool room where I am comfortable and feel safe.
- Clothing that is loose so I don’t feel confined.
While these are some of the conditions I wish I could sleep in every night, I know we are all different. When it comes to managing the issues surrounding our insomnia, we must learn what works for us through trial and error.
Figuring out the best course of action
Oftentimes, we look to doctors, friends, family, and people on the internet for ways to help ourselves. And while that is a GREAT place to start, we ultimately have to figure out the best course of action for ourselves.
I am sure those of you reading this who live with a chronic health condition can understand where I am coming from. The trial and error part sucks. It would be great if there was a one size fits all approach to dealing with insomnia.
Do you struggle with PTSD and insomnia? Have you found anything that helps you? What is your ideal sleeping environment? Are you able to achieve that or it's not realistic due to space, finances, etc? While we do have to figure things out for ourselves, sharing and learning tips from those who have been there can be very helpful! Plus, it shows others they are not alone in their struggles.
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