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Sleep Apnea and PTSD

Discussion in 'Sleep & Nightmares' started by anthony, Nov 2, 2008.

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  1. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    I have read here a few times that people mention PTSD and sleep apnea in the same context, ie. they often believe one is linked to another. I thought it would be a more interesting discussion on how one really thinks this, as from all the reading I have done on sleep apnea, the most common cause is from being overweight, which induces the "obstructive" type of sleep apnea.
    Now... many people who are told they have sleep apnea and then continue onto a oxygen machine or medication to sleep 99% of the time ignore the actual methods in which they can cease it and sleep normally... being:
    So... my question is this: How many with diagnosed sleep apnea are overweight, smokers, do no structured exercise, drink alcohol and take medication?

    What is your position on this?

    I know that when I was heavily Depressed and put on weight, my snoring increased exponentially. I lost weight and my snoring decreased. If I drink alcohol I snore, as alcohol is a muscle relaxant. If I did nothing about the very things I do control, I could have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, though learnt quickly how to Combat this and not have such an illness. For the majority as I see it, sleep apnea is actually an illness they can choose to have or not, depending on their lifestyle choices.
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  3. Robyn

    Robyn Active Member

    My DH is obese but has lost a significant amount of weight, he smokes up to two packs a day, doesn't exercise due to health & pain limitations, he doesn't drink, and is on various meds for RLS & RA.

    He sleeps primarily on his back because of degenerative disc disease in the lower back prevents him getting comfortable in other positions.

    My mentioning the Sleep Apnea in the other thread was merely a listing of what he'd been diagnosed with, not specifically to correlate it to PTSD which I now recognize as a lack of interpretation on my part.

    Thanks for the clarification
  4. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    I have obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia; I have a cpap machine and sleep medicine.
  5. Dylan

    Dylan Well-Known Member

    I had sleep apnea when I was heavier and used the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). I do have a thicker neck (so said the doc anyway) and when I gain weight, it settles heavily there. I also smoked a lot when I was younger.

    When I lost weight and had the surgery (turbinate reduction/fixed the septum), the apnea went away, although I still do snore (and, yes, it does increase with alcohol and/or sedative drug (i.e. Ambien) usage).

  6. Mina

    Mina I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I do not have sleep apnea, but my PTSD diagnosis came about in part because my MD thought I did. All the sleep disturbance symptoms I described were so consistent with sleep apnea. He was convinced I had it, even though I am quite thin and fit...I even have a thin family member with it, which apparently is a major indicator/correlation. However, a sleep oxcimetry test (where they monitor your blood oxygen through the night) showed nothing abnormal on several different occasions. No actual sleep apnea, just similar symptoms. It was right after that our marriage counselor suggested PTSD and yep, sure enough.
  7. nic

    nic Well-Known Member

    I have sleep apnea, and I don't drink, don't smoke, and I'm not overweight. I always had breathing problems during sleep. When I was little, I had my adnoids (sp?) and tonsils removed. (I don't know if it did much; I was too young to remember.) I do find that that sleeping on my side helps...A LOT. (Sleeping on my back, while most comfortable, really increases the sleep apnea for me.) Unfortunately, though, I toss and turn a bit, and even if I go to sleep on my side, I don't always end up that way in the middle of the night.

    I never really thought of my sleep apnea as a PTSD problem, though. I do have sleep issues related to PTSD, (Anxiety, nightmares, insomnia), but the apnea is totally different.
  8. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    I dont really understand how sleep apnea could be related to PTSD. I haven't got it myself but a close friend has. He isn't overweight in the slightest, he does regular exercise, doesn't smoke or drink much. He is having tests done at the moment but what they have found is his jaw/palate shape is the cause.
  9. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    What do you fit though with the causes to sleep apnea 2quilt?

    Robyn... not just from your post. I have read this several times within the forum.
  10. frabrne

    frabrne New Member

    at first i must apologize on mine bad english, i am croatian War veteran and i have obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and ptsd. the bad thing is that i have all physical qualities for apnea - overweight, smoker, short neck. i was register on this forum because i need help to find any researches result which connect apnea and insomnia with ptsd , especially apnea. when i was in hospital for apnea diagnose the most other pacient was also veterans (about 80%) and most off them with ptsd diagnose. this situation give me idea to find are this two diseases in some connection. thanks
  11. missy8888

    missy8888 Active Member


    I do have some answers on Sleep Apnea if your interested. I also went to school for Resp. care and have my certification in polsomnography. ( I took the courses cause both me and my son have asthma.)

    I have never pursued that feild cause i already have a career. But i love school and actually have gone for several things.. Anyway, i did have to work in a hospital during my clinicals for a year.( usually 1 day a week from 7pm to 7am).

    I can tell you that ANYONE can get sleep apnea.. weight and drugs can be a contributing factor. But so can heart disease.. there is a strong correlation between heart disease and sleep apnea..

    many of the patients i hooked up to the equiptment and monitored as a sleep tech student were thin with no history of substance Abuse.. i have seen young athletic men in there 20's come in cause their wife complained they snored and would gasp for air...and found out they had sleep apnea.

    sure they were ALOT more of the overweight patients who had it, along with a string of other health issues.

    So in some cases as in OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) if the weight came off the sleep apnea may or may not subside.. obstructive sleep apnea there IS respitory effort... but no breath..

    But there is also Central sleep apnea in which (it has been a few years) but if i remember correctly... there is NO respitory effort and NO breath...
    that one is kinda scary cause the body doesnt even try...

    as in the OSA, the patients body trys to get air, but its is obstucted and thats when the body gasps....

    So basically it is not something a person chooses to have or chooses to keep by not losing weight or changing lifestyles.

    I still have all my text books and notes from class..packed away some where in my closet. So if there is anything you want to know i can look it up for you if i don't remember the answer...:smile:

    If i can help just let me know

    The Albatross likes this.
  12. raku

    raku Member

    Interesting. My father was a vet with PTSD who smoked heavily. He also snored like a chimney. I remember listening to the snoring, then hearing it stop suddenly and hearing nothing, then a sudden snort and hearing him get up. This happened night after night. Wonder if he stopped breathing. His doctor told him to sleep without a pillow, but it didn't stop the snoring completely.
  13. missy8888

    missy8888 Active Member


    It sounds like he definately has sleep apnea. I can't beleive his doctor told him to sleep without a pillow... Actually sleeping with the head elevated often helps breathing, so does sleeping on your side rather than in a supine (flat on your back) position.

    Was this many years ago? Because years ago a general doctor probably wouldn't have a clue.. Back then usually only a pulmonary or cardiac doctors would know that.

    Sleep studies weren't really common back then. In recent years more and more studies have shown the correlation between sleep and other health issues.. So now it has become as main stream as an MRI.

    There are sleep labs popping up all over the country and most hospitals also have a sleep labs.. So most doctors will now refer there patients out for a sleep test. Also if they discover that someone does infact have sleep apnea. The doctor will usually order a second sleep test for a CPAP titration. It will be just like the first one except they will also put the patient on the CPAP machine and titraite (adjust the air pressure) until the apneas stop.

    When the tech finds the right CPAP setting, the info is recorded and sent to the doctor. And then a Respitory tech will usually meet with the patient either at home or in the office where they will set them up with their own machine and teach them how to use it.

    Most people once they get used to it.. cause it is noisy...and the mask can be weird) actually start feeling alot better and have more energy..

    Hope this helps..
  14. lrs

    lrs Well-Known Member

    It has been several years since my last sleep study, so my primary care doc thought I should go in for another.
    I saw my neurologist last week, and for the first time had a chance to describe what happened, and how I believe that PTSD is Curable. He was very busy, but took some time to ask detailed questions.
    One of his specialties is sleep disorders, and in our talk, I explained my theory own theory, how sleep apnea contributes to PTSD.
    I go in for the sleep study this Wed, and then a follow up with the Dr on Friday. I'm curious to see if he shows any more interest in this.
  15. missy8888

    missy8888 Active Member


    Let me know how you make out.. I am curious to see what they say..

    Basically if you think about it... If you get a crappy nights sleep you are tired and have trouble consentrating ect... If you are sick...(like with the flu) you need sleep and rest to feel better..

    Sleep is the way the body rejuvinates itself.... so if you are sleep deprived over a period of time..... it is going to cause your body harm... and if you already have health issues...(like PTSD...) it is going to be worse ten fold..

    Good luck, and let me know...
  16. lrs

    lrs Well-Known Member

    It was interesting. The Dr was going through my chart, he did not have any updates since about mid 2003.
    I originally went to his office in 3/2001. I had Depression so bad, I just layed on the couch all day, couldn't sleep at night. My trauma counselor at that time thought a sleep study might help. I had recently been on 13 prescription drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and lithium. They had cut back some by 3/2001, but I don't remember exactly what all I was taking, except that I took 80mg of prozac, and 100mg of doxepin every day. I think I was taking risperdal and remeron as well.
    Then in 2003, my normal anxiety level was through the roof. My supervisor gave me a dirtly look, and I ended up in the e.r. with a panic attack. They refered me back to this neurologist, and he thought there might be something physically wrong. So I had an mri, eeg, and some other procedures that I don't know what they are called, with blinking lights. The mri showed that I had a stroke long ago. I think it might have been from a head injury when I was in the 3rd grade, but we'll never know for sure.
    So last week, he asked me what I was taking, and I said mirapex, for the restless leg stuff.
    Well what about prozac and all that other stuff.
    I said I haven't taken any of that for several years now.
    Why not?
    I said I don't have PTSD any more, and I really don't need any of that stuff. I just need the mirapex, for restless leg.
    I then gave him a brief account of what happened, and he was pretty surprised.
    Believe it or not, I was a little nervous in describing this, and I had to ask myself later why should I be nervous.
    I guess it might be because there is a bit of an emotional risk involved. I was telling a story of heart and soul, combined with something that is pretty unusual.
    Nonetheless, he was easy to talk to, and showed genuine interest.
    He could see my chart, it was right in front of him. He could see how I was before, it was there in black and white. Then to hear something new like this.
    In my job, I talk to MD's all across our country. Occasionally, I will talk to one who is really at the top of his profession. I will ask the questions I am required to ask, then I just like to listen. Some of these people are so damned intelligent, it'd scare you.
    This particular Dr, a neurologist, is one of those Dr's.
    Anyhow, he said he wanted to pass this along to a psychologist who works with patients who have ptsd. I told him he was more than welcome to do so.
    I am curious to see if he brings it up on our follow up visit this Friday.
    We'll see.
    ZebraWestie likes this.
  17. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    I think I got sleep apnea when I became obese. I have had 3 sleep studies; the first one showed that I could get away with not using a cpap, the second study showed moderate sleep apnea and the third showed severe sleep apnea. My weight has slowly gone up over time.
  18. frabrne

    frabrne New Member

    i also have CPAP (respironics REMstar auto with a-flex) , from day when i bought it i was slept only once without it then i was saw real difference sleeping with or without CPAP, my main problem is that i was gone late to mine doctor, and OSA is very get on, so when i was been on polisomnography test i have AHI 81 , and after adenoide surgery AHI was been 60 per hour , pulse was rise up 200/min and oxigene saturation drop on 60%. the main problem in croatia is that doctors still have opinnion that overweight is major contributing factor for OSA. but when i rethink i had OSA at least 3 year before i gone to doctor and in this time mine weight is rise up about 20 kg (about 45 pound) so maybe is vice the overwieght is result of apnea and not opposite. i also have bad night but at the morning i do not remmember nothing about it only my wife talk me what i was doing during sleep, tremble body (shaking) , lift arms, try talking (but CPAP disables me to open mouth) etc. one off the reason why i was register on this forum is that i was think that your doctors have more experiences with apnea, but now i see that you have also the same problem like we here, in my case after three months examination one neurologist was came on idea to send me on all night sleep study. REQ i still demand some research results which connecting OSA and PTSD.
  19. raku

    raku Member


    The doctor told my father to sleep without a pillow in the early 1980's. My father died 7 years ago. Just thought the information would help the informal survey, here :)

  20. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    That is some good information Missy... thank you. It is appreciated to hear from people with experience, such as yourself. I notice with my own weight... I typically sit within a 10 - 15kg range, being from 85 - 100kg. If I am around the 90kg then I don't snore. If I get lazy, which I have over the past few months, then I creep up around the 100kg mark and snore lots more; to the point it keeps Nicolette up. The more I exercise and lose weight, the less I snore. That is me personally.
    ZebraWestie likes this.
  21. missy8888

    missy8888 Active Member


    You are one of the lucky ones with weight being a contributing factor.. Well you have to keep in shape then , not for your health...but just so poor nicolette can get some rest... hahaha :smile:

    I really hope that doctors start doing more research into PTSD and sleep apnea, cause PTSD is hard enough as it is, and not being able to sleep is only gonna make it worse...
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