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War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

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Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

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After a deployment, many Veterans develop sleep difficulties. The most common types of sleep difficulties are:

  • Insomnia - a hard time falling or staying asleep
  • Sleep apnea - breathing interruptions during sleep, often associated with snoring
  • Restless leg syndrome - an overwhelming urge to move your legs, often accompanied by a tingling or prickly sensation in the legs
  • Narcolepsy - daytime "sleep attacks"


Common symptoms related to sleep disorders include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Waking up feeling tired and/or feeling very sleepy during the day
  • Feeling unrefreshed after sleeping


Many people do not realize that they may have a sleep disorder that is treatable. Often, the most common symptom is difficulty staying awake during the daytime despite spending an adequate amount of time in bed at night. Untreated sleep disorders can be dangerous and can lead to significant increases in accidents, impaired health (i.e., increased risks for obesity and heart disease), and overall worse mood and decreased quality of life.

There are treatments for most sleep disorders that you can discuss with your doctor. Here is a list of some of the things you can do to improve your sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule.
  • Do not exercise close to bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  • Avoid alcohol before bed.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
  • Avoid medications that delay or disrupt your sleep if possible.