Hypervigilance is an over-activated nervous system. Though it is a classic symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anyone can experience hypervigiliance. When this is happening you are constantly looking for threats within your surroundings. Hypervigilance can make it hard to focus on important things and cause you to feel more irritable.

Hypervigilance and sleep

Studies have found that people experiencing hypervigilance have a worse quality of sleep. This may be one of the reasons why people with PTSD often experience sleep problems like:

  • Insomnia
  • Disrupted rapid eye movement (REM) sleep — the sleep stage in which you typically experience dreams
  • Nightmares

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom's profile picture
Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom, PhD

Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty practice in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Areas of expertise include insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.

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