Roughly 5.2 million people have PTSD during the course of a given year. PTSD can affect anyone — from war veterans and abuse victims to persons directly or indirectly traumatized by other catastrophes including crime, natural disasters, and serious accidents. Our title, What Nurses Know…PTSD explores the causes, symptoms, and effects of PTSD; covers all treatments available today from both traditional and alternative sources; and illustrates how to manage stress, talk to your healthcare provider, and get help.

Here are a few tips on dealing with nightmares and night tremors, taken from our title, What Nurses Know...PTSD.

Dealing with Nightmares and Night Terrors

Nightmares and night terrors do not have to disrupt your life. You can learn to control them. Try some of these suggestions:

  • Imagery rehearsal is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy for nightmares caused by PTSD. This technique can help you change your nightmares by rehearsing while you are awake how you would like them to be
  • Medications may be used in conjunction with therapy to treat PTSD-related nightmares; however, their efficacy has not been demonstrated as clearly as that of imagery rehearsal treatment. One such medication is Minipress (generic name prazosin), which blocks some of the effects of adrenaline released in the body. When you have PTSD, your body may release too much adrenaline, a hormone that can make you feel stressed and cause nightmares. By helping to prevent you from having nightmares, Minipress may help you to sleep better, allowing you to feel healthier and more alert. This, in turn, may help lower your stress and help you feel more in control of your life. Like all medications, Minipress should be taken with caution. It is actually a high blood pressure medication, and thus may not be appropriate for you if your blood pressure tends to be low. Minipress lowers your blood pressure and can make you feel dizzy, so don’t stand up too fast especially when first starting this medication and if the dosage is changed. This side effect should diminish with time. Other side effects include thinking and acting more slowly; lack of energy; slow heart rate (bradycardia); nausea; weakness; and coughing or wheezing, which means the airways that carry air to the lungs are narrowing (bronchospasm). Less common side effects are stuffy nose, headache, and swelling in the legs.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene:
    • Go to bed at the same time each night
    • Wake up at the same time each morning
    • Avoid napping during the day
    • Try using a "worry rock": Tell your worries to a small rock just before bedtime. When the rock becomes “full of worries,” toss it away, symbolic of getting rid of your worries

Get more tips and information from the book, What Nurses Know...PTSD.

What Nurses Know...PTSD