For Me, PTSD and Nightmares Led to Difficulty Sleeping
I endured severe abuse as a child, resulting in horrific nightmares haunting my sleep. I forced myself to stay awake at night and missed countless days of school due to exhaustion. I was in the second grade when my mother talked about my difficulty sleeping with our family doctor. They talked about what causes insomnia. Almost all cases with children are stress related, but she was vague about trouble at home.
PTSD and Nightmares
My experience with insomnia is unique. It’s been a permanent fixture in my life for three decades. After the child abuse, came years of social isolation and the deaths of half my family. By seventeen, I was homeless, orphaned… living in my late father’s car. Plagued with undiagnosed anxiety disorders and PTSD, I was confused and suicidal.
My nightmares were realistic and terrifying, so I forced myself to stay awake for days at a time. Sleep deprivation eventually forced the nightmares into my waking hours, through audio and visual hallucinations. I thought I was going insane, and my lack of sleep had a lot to do with that.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia can have physical origins like Apnea, but more than half the people, diagnosed with insomnia, suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, or other psychological issues. This is a complicated matter, because the insomnia stems from disorders that worsen with lack of sleep.
Insomnia and Suicide
I struggled with my will to live for twenty years. I overcame my suicidal thoughts, but when this was an issue, I always came closest to death when I hadn’t slept in a few days. Insomnia can definitely inhibit my mental health recovery, so I remain vigilant in my efforts to get enough sleep.
What I’ve Learned
Medication is one way to control sleep issues. With someone like me, what causes insomnia in the first place needs to be the foundation of any treatment plan. Many anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, that I’ve used to treat my psychological disorders, promote sleep as an added benefit.
Pharmaceuticals aside, there are many things you can do to improve your sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping, you should avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol… especially close to bedtime. You should also avoid reading or watching television in bed to help your sub-conscience recognize the bed as a place for sleep.
Keeping a fixed routine is beneficial. Go to bed and wake up at the same times, even on weekends. Diet and exercise are crucial too. Getting enough sleep has never been a problem when I’m following a regular exercise routine and eating healthy. Finally, always seek help from a professional if your difficulty sleeping affects the quality of your life.