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Sleep Apnea Secondary to PTSD

I am a psychologist with extensive training related to posttraumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric conditions; I am also trained in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and am a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.  I find sleep very interesting and have read a lot of research related to it.

It is interesting how science and our thinking about the scientific evidence evolves over time. There are plenty of professionals out there still who will take a purely mechanistic approach and tell you that sleep apnea is only a structural approach or that it is primarily due to obesity. Over the last few years though an increasing amount of research has been conducted which challenges this overly simplistic view. In addition, more and more BVA decisions appear to be relying on this research evidence.

You can search the Board of Veterans’ Appeals decisions here:

In relation to sleep apnea and PTSD there are plenty of research articles out there connecting them. I did a quick decision search for a phrase used in some of the prominent articles related to an “arousal-based mechanism” and it returned a large number of results where VBA found a favorable connection of sleep apnea secondary to PTSD. Here are a few, but not all of them: Citation Nr: 19133904 (Docket NO. 18-05 0350 5/1/2019; Citation Nr: 19164013 (Docket NO. 15-12 470) 8/19/19; Citation Nr: 19136285 (Docket NO. 18-01 222) 5/10/19; Citation Nr: 20011070 (Docket NO. 19-05 577) 2/10/2020; Citation Nr: 19155477 (Docket NO. 18-28 822) 7/18/19; Citation Nr: 19107744 (Docket NO. 16-51 926) 2/1/19; Citation Nr: 19103608 (Docket NO. 17-05 487) 1/15/19; Citation Nr. 19144930 (Docket NO. 17-49 916) 6/11/19; Citation Nr: 19141163 (DOCKET NO. 18-18 750A) 5/29/19; Citation Nr: 19110858 (Docket NO 16-53 449), 2/12/19). This is not an exhaustive list.

If you’re wondering if you’re sleep apnea may be secondary to your service-connected PTSD feel free to reach out to Todd Finnerty, Psy.D. for a records review and possible nexus letter: email [email protected] or cell (330)495-8809