There’s no question that stress is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia. However, there are many factors that can contribute to an experience of insomnia. Medication, physical illness, or simply drinking too much caffeine during the day can lead to not being able to sleep. Yet, for many, insomnia can be the result of anxiety, depression, and in general a very active mind.
Of course, the mind becomes more and more active when there is psychological and physical threats and danger, and this is often true for both partners involved in domestic violence. Both the aggressor and the victim can experience the violence between them as traumatic. An experience that is considered traumatic is one that threatens the injury, death, or physical integrity, and is usually accompanied by terror and helplessness. A traumatic event could be the death of a friend or family member, sexual or physical abuse, an automobile accident, school violence, experiences of war, the effects of natural disasters, and acts of terrorism. It can include many types of violent experiences, including domestic violence. As a result of experiencing such an intense ordeal, along with feeling powerless to do anything about it, psychological symptoms often result, one of which is insomnia.
Perhaps it’s obvious that lack of sleep would result from violence in the home. Yet, a researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School. The study revealed that intimate partner violence not only triggers psychological problems but may also lead towards developing physical symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia.
Vijay Singh, the clinical researcher, found that one in five men in the US report violence towards their spouse or significant other. He took a sample of 530 men with an average age of 42. Roughly 78 percent were non-Hispanic white, 56 percent were educated beyond high school and 84 percent were employed. The study also found that male aggression toward a partner is associated with other warning signs like substance abuse and a history of either experiencing or witnessing violence as a child. The study was published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
Although it’s easy to think of men and women who engage in domestic violence as being a part of a certain socioeconomic class, Singh explained differently. “Our study showed one out of every five men in the US reported physical violence toward an intimate partner. It is likely that we have all met these men in our daily environment. This is an issue that cuts across all communities, regardless of race, income, or any other demographics,” he commented.
However, research also points to the fact that men who are aggressive towards their partners have a history of witnessing domestic violence as children. Furthermore, they also have a tendency to engage in self-harming activities such as substance abuse or other risky behavior. It is known that at least one third of American children and teens have witnessed domestic violence between their parents, and most have witnessed multiple occasions of violence.
Most children who witness violence experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a type of psychological stress that can get in the way of being able to sleep. Also, children who witness violence can be more aggressive and become violent themselves, particularly as they grow older. Children can easily learn that it’s okay to have violence in relationships and they might come to even expect it. As adults, patterns of relationships learned in early childhood are expressed later in life.
If an individual never learns to heal from a trauma experienced early in life, that event can continue to get in the way of being able to sleep. Learning how to relieve psychological stress can be a significant factor in finally being able to get some rest, particularly if early trauma, such as witnessing domestic violence is the cause. Furthermore, adults who engage in violence in their relationship might also notice disruption in their sleep patterns. Healing the relationship and finding stress-relieving coping tools can finally facilitate healthy sleep.