How Trauma Affects Sleep – Chili Technology

How Trauma Affects Sleep

Trauma for Drama

Once again, the ChiliPad's patent-pending water-cooling technology can help reduce the negative sleep effects of trauma by regulating sleep temperature which signals the brain when to sleep and when to wake up.


We’ve seen the Oscar-winning war movies with copious shots of blood and gore as the heroes fight for their cause (which usually involves saving Matt Damon). But the one thing the TV shows and movies rarely show is what happens after the fighting stops and the wounds heal.


What is Trauma?

We classify trauma as gruesome events we see on shows, movies and, occasionally, the news. This keeps us removed from it, and, therefore, makes trauma seem rare. In actuality, the National Center for PTSD found roughly 60% of men and 50% of women will experience at least one traumatic event during their lifetimes. To put this in perspective, half of the women in your life and 2 out 3 men in your life suffer or will suffer from the effects of trauma.

Trauma can be either physical or psychological. Physical trauma is technically any injury caused by bodily harm, although the term is usually applied to severe injuries that lead to secondary conditions like shock or respiratory failure, and death. Psychological trauma, on the other hand, is damage to the human psyche that occurs after an emotionally upsetting or distressing event. In many cases, both physical and psychological trauma occur at the same time.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Unfortunately for some, the pain does not end with the traumatic experience. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as, “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in order to be diagnosed with PTSD, a patient must show the following symptoms for a minimum of 30 days:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom - flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts
  • At least one avoidance symptom - Avoiding places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience or avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms - Being easily startled, feeling tense, difficulty sleeping, angry outbursts
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms - Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event, negative thoughts about oneself or the world, distorted feelings like guilt or blame, loss of interest in enjoyable activities


For a very real look at the debilitating effects of PTSD click here to hear Sarah Dale of the show New Rosie explain her husband John’s battle with and recovery from PTSD.


Trauma and Sleep

The effects of a traumatic experience can lead to various sleep disorders and syndromes.


Physical trauma can disrupt sleep due to discomfort and pain from the injury or injuries. As we’ve discussed before, deep sleep is crucial for recovery and a scientifically proven way to get better quality deep sleep is sleeping cool with the ChiliPad. Not to mention, the cool temperatures can help alleviate pain from physical injuries.


More complex sleep disruption is seen in those who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s). These injuries are related to insomnia, delayed sleep-phase syndrome, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome (RLS), bruxism, sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) and sleepwalking.


In fact, research has shown that 60% of people diagnosed with a TBI will experience difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. This makes perfect sense when remembering that the brain is responsible for regulating our sleep patterns. An injury to the brain can disrupt our circadian rhythm, causing irregularities in our sleep habits. Once again, the ChiliPad can help reduce the negative sleep effects of trauma by regulating sleep temperature which signals the brain when to sleep and when to wake up.


Psychological trauma is similarly linked to these sleep issues. Additionally, people with PTSD may experience nightmares as a re-experiencing symptom. They may also be more prone to sleepwalking, sleep talking, night sweats and night terrors due to the condition. REM sleep behavior disorder, or physically acting out dreams during sleep, may also occur.


Take a look here to see how the ChiliPad helps Iraq War veteran John Dale get a good night’s sleep.



Treatment for Trauma-related Sleep Problems

In addition to medication prescribed by a licensed physician, treatments for trauma-induced sleep issues include:



Tips for better sleep can be found here. But please remember, we are not your doctor. If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing PTSD, TBI or other trauma-related conditions, you should immediately contact your doctor.