Sleep Apnea/PTSD

The High Risk of Sleep Apnea in Veterans with PTSD

A study of U.S. Veterans shows that the probability of having a high risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increased with increasing severity of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

The study involved 195 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who visited a VA outpatient PTSD clinic for evaluation. Results show that 69.2% of participants had a high risk for sleep apnea, and this risk increased with PTSD symptom severity. Every clinically significant increase in PTSD symptom severity was associated with a 40% increase in the probability of screening as high risk for sleep apnea.

This is critical information because sleep apnea is a risk factor for a long list of health problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and psychological problems including depression, worsening PTSD and anxiety.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) reports that obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disease afflicting at least 25 million adults in the U.S. Sleep apnea warning signs include snoring and choking, gasping or silent breathing pauses during sleep.

The relationship between sleep apnea and PTSD in military Veterans is unclear. However, potential factors that may connect the two disorders include disturbed sleep in combat, prolonged sleep deprivation, sleep fragmentation and hyperarousal due to the physical and psychological stressors of combat, chronic stress from PTSD, or sleep disturbances caused by OSA.

According to the National Center for PTSD of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD symptoms such as nightmares or flashbacks usually start soon after a traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later.  Symptoms that last longer than four weeks, and cause great distress or interfere with daily life, may be a sign of PTSD.

When a Veteran can show that his or her PTSD is service connected, the VA will assign a disability rating. A disability rating is based on the earnings lost due to the PTSD. At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we have the experience and knowledge to assist our clients in navigating the complex VA system to get our heroes the benefits they need and deserve. Know that first consultations are always free. If you believe you may qualify for disability, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or call 877.526.3455. Honor is due.

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