It is very common to have patients with occasional to frequent restless nights followed by increased sleepiness during the day, and subsequent performance issues. In addition to the immediate impact of excessive daytime sleepiness and dysfunction, there is potential to develop chronic insomnia. There is also considerable data that links chronic insomnia to increased risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension, plus an impact on the personal safety of an individual with chronic insomnia.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma and stress-related disorder characterized by re-experiencing, avoidance, hyperarousal and negative alterations in cognition or mood. Events that involve threat to integrity of self or others such as rape, physical assault, natural disasters and combat exposure are commonly associated with the development of PTSD.1 The lifetime prevalence of PTSD among adults in the United States ranges from 6-10%, with women being more than twice as likely to have PTSD at some point. Significantly higher estimates have been reported in combat veterans (15-30%). Rates of PTSD in veterans are higher if they were stationed in combat zones, had tours of longer than one year, experienced combat or were injured. Specifically, among veterans with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, 31-86% report multiple traumatic combat exposures and 11-20% endorse significant PTSD symptoms.
Daniel Erichsen, MD, saw it time and time again. Patients would come into his sleep clinic in Oregon complaining of insomnia, and he would tell them the same thing: If you don’t try to sleep, eventually you will. But they weren’t always listening. “I got frustrated with just saying the same thing over and over,” Erichsen says. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way I can communicate with a lot of people at once.’”