Trauma and Sleep

Don't Lose Hope

Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs.” ― Bessel A. van der Kolk

If you have experienced a trauma of some kind, your brain will now be programmed to expect danger or threat. So, even in the night, it will remain on high alert. It does this on its own, outside of conscious awareness.

In summary:

1. The brain will start to release a cascade of hormones. This disturbs our sleep, and usually wakens us up, as it prepares to set in motion the fight/ flight/ freeze response. This happens even when the risk or the danger has passed.

2. Trauma disturbs our normal sleep architecture. This means it interferes with the way we move through the different sleep cycles. REM sleep is the stage which…

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