The condition includes horrifying nightmares, but new research at the Jackson VA Medical Center found that a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea significantly reduces those nightmares. The discovery is already providing relief for some.
"Pretty much every time I was closing my eyes, I was having a nightmare," said Master Sgt. Chuck Murray.
He's retired from the U.S. Air force after 23 years of service and a Gulf War veteran. He says the horrors of war and conflict are etched in his memory.
"You do what you have to when you're there and it gets stored in your brain and once you slow down and get back to a calmer environment, it's like you find a file on a computer and it starts downloading," Murray said.
That downloading occurs during the REM stage of Murray's sleep in the form of chilling nightmares.
"I'd have to take a pain pill and a sleeping pill to the point of being afraid that I would not wake up," Murray said.
Murray was also diagnosed with sleep apnea and is part of sleep specialist Dr. Sadeka Tamanna's study at the Jackson VA.
Tamanna found the CPAP machine, which is used to treat apnea by providing continuous air pressure during sleep so a patient's airway doesn't collapse, significantly improves episodes of nightmares in patients with PTSD.
There have been a few obstacles, but with persistence and behavioral support, Dr. Tamanna has raised compliance for using the machine to 60 percent.
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