In this blog post I will be focusing on one of the most pervasive problems that combat vets with PTSD face. Sleep disturbances and nightmares not only damage the veteran but detrimentally affect the spouse or partner.
When the veteran experiences loss of sleep or a nightmare, it is inevitable that those in close proximity will be awakened. It is often the spouse, who has to try to calm the veteran down after a bad dream. It is also the spouse who may be trying to fall asleep next to the veteran, yet be painfully aware that their loved one is having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep.
It’s now well-known that chronic sleep deprivation can be deadly. In an article by Michael J. Breus, Ph. D. (published on WebMD) he notes some of the consequences of sleep deprivation:
- Decreased performance and Alertness
- Memory and Cognitive Impairment
- Relationship Stresses (seperate bedrooms, conflicts, moodiness)
- Occupational Injury (sleepiness on the job)
- Automobile Injury (drowsy driving, slower reflexes)
Other Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Mental Impairment
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
I know personally the effects of chronic sleep deprivation. As my former husband’s ( a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran of two tours) drinking escalated, in the waning years of our nineteen-year marriage, it became nearly impossible to get a decent night’s sleep. When he’d roll into the house in the wee hours, he was usually full of macho bluster and bravado. Sometimes he’d be eager for a fight, other nights he’d be in an amourous mood. I never knew what to expect. Inevitably, I rarely got a full night’s sleep, but still had to get up and go to work in the morning.
Many nights he’d wake the children. Some nights it would be with hug and a kiss. Other nights he’d jar them out of bed and make them clean up their room in the middle of the night.
Now, some twenty-three years later, I still shudder at those memories. My chronic sleep deprivation eventually led to a full blown clinical depression.
So if you’re living under similar conditions, be aware of the dangers. Your physical, mental and emotional health is at stake. Reach out for help, and see if you can make some changes.
I’ll be writing more about clinical depression and how I was diagnosed and got better, in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.
For more info on chronic sleep deprivation go to: