Here’s a not too surprising study about post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in veterans: 54% of PTSD patients who underwent formal sleep studies were found to have obstructive sleep apnea. This is much higher than what’s normally expected (about 20%). There are numerous reports of veterans with severe PTSD that are eventually found to have obstructive sleep apnea later in life, and once treated, the PTSD goes away.
It’s likely that they always had some degree of obstructive sleep apnea to begin with, and once the emotional or physical trauma took place, memories or thoughts of that event can trigger a hyperintense reaction, since your nervous system is going to be hypersensitive in general.
I’m also guessing that there will be a significant number of veterans that don’t meet the official criteria for obstructive sleep apnea, but still suffer from significant breathing pauses and arousals.
Based on these findings, do you think everyone with a formal diagnosis of PTSD should be screened for obstructive sleep apnea? Please enter your comments in the text box below.