Can post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cause sleep disorders?

This question was asked in Abington, Pennsylvania on 10/01/2012.
My son has served two terms in the Iraq war. He wakes up in the middle of the night every night and sleep walks. He continues to bang his head at the wall. He continually walks into walls stating that he is waiting in line for something. He will answer you in his state of sleep sometimes coherent sometimes not. He woke up one night and asked "who was he to write the check out to", another night he woke up and picked up the laundry basket and stated that he had to do the laundry because "she" said he had to. When awaken from his sleep he becomes verbally violent. He will sit up and stare at you bugged eyed, grinding his teeth cursing, but not realizing that he is doing it. I believe that he is a threat to the family and especially his son. Because he walks all over the house and we do not know what he is capable of doing.

Doctors Answers (3)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 10/9/2012

Yes, PTSD can cause or trigger sleep disorders. This can range from insomnia to "parasomnias" which refer to events while sleeping. This can range from acting out dreams to night terrors. Rather than listing all the characteristics of all the possible sleep disorders, it would be best for your son to see a board certified sleep specialist. Possibly the military can facilitate that referral. Otherwise, his primary care physician should refer him. The disorder you describe of walking and talking in his sleep can be dangerous to himself and others. Treatment is available.

Terry M. Himes, DO
Answered on: 10/2/2012

YES. Our staff physician highly-recommends, you have your son see a sleep specialist with a psychosis back ground or on staff at a sleep center. We do have a specialist on staff here, if you would like to contact us.

Marjorie Yong, M.D.
Answered on: 10/2/2012

I am sorry that your son was traumatized by his two terms. He may have a combination of sleep problems. He needs to be seen for a sleep consultation. We can evaluate his brain-wave activity and help with coming to a conclusion of what is causing him to walk in his sleep.