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Adequate Sleep Matters for Soldiers at Risk for Suicide Cont.
- Categorized in: December 2011, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Sleep
Sleep Problems Common for Redeployed Troops
Sleep problems appear common in redeployed troops with more than seven out of every 10 soldiers suffering from short sleep duration (SSD), a recent Army study found. 1
For the study, researchers examined the sleep habits of 3,152 soldiers and compared the prevalence of co-morbid medical conditions with sleep duration. Study participants included soldiers in a redeployed brigade combat team who participated in a health assessment 90 to 180 days after completing a six- to 15-month deployment to Iraq.
Their sleep habits were measured using self-reported numbers of sleep hours per night and whether lack of sleep caused them to nap during the day or affected their job performance. Insufficient sleep was defined as a combination of these two factors.
A total of 2,738 soldiers answered questions regarding self-perceived sleep and were included in the analysis.
SSD was defined in the study as less than seven hours per night. The results of the study showed the average sleep duration was 5.8 ± 1.2 hours. Of the respondents, 77% had experienced combat exposure and were much less likely to sleep more than six hours nightly. After controlling for combat exposure, SSD was associated with symptoms of depression, PTSD, panic syndrome and high-risk health behaviors, such as tobacco and alcohol abuse and suicide attempts, according to the study abstract.
“Soldiers who experienced combat are at increased risk for persistent SSD and co-morbidities associated with SSD,” the study abstract stated. “Efforts to reestablish good sleep habits and aggressive evaluation of soldiers with persistent SSD following deployment may aid in the prevention and management of associated medical conditions.”
- Luxton DD; Greenburg D; Ryan J; Niven A; Wheeler G; Mysliwiec V. Prevalence and impact of short sleep duration in redeployed OIF soldiers. SLEEP 2011;34(9):1189-1195.
Sleep Problems Linked to Combat-Related Issues
Combat-related TBI and PTSD increase the likelihood of sleep disorders in soldiers, according to recent research presented at the American College of Chest Physicians in Honolulu.1
For the study, researchers sought to determine the prevalence of sleep disorders in combat-related TBI and PTSD. A total of 261 patients were included in the study, with 135 patients suffering from PTSD, 116 suffering from TBI and 66 suffering from both.
According to the study abstract, “sleep complaints were universal.”
Sleep fragmentation was present in 71.3%, and hypersomnia was present in 87.4%. The researchers performed diagnostic polysomnography on 81.2% of the patients and found obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in 56.3% and insomnia in 48.7%.
Sleep disorders following TBI were affected by mechanism of injury, according to the study abstract.
“Those with blunt trauma had more OSA (54.3% v 25.9%, p=0.003) and those with blast injuries experienced more insomnia (63.0% v 40.0%, p=0.022). Similarly, sleep disorders differed between traumatic versus a traumatic PTSD. Among those with PTSD and OSA, there were significantly fewer patients with battle injuries (37.0% v 71.0%, p<0.001), compared to those without sleep apnea. Among those with TBI, there were fewer patients with OSA (28.8% v 78.3%, p<0.001), compared with those without head injury. Rates of insomnia were equal among traumatic and atraumatic PTSD patients,” the researchers wrote in the abstract.
The researchers concluded that soldiers with combat related TBI and PTSD have high rates of disordered sleep.
“Sleep disorders in TBI were divided by mechanism of injury, with higher rates of OSA in blunt trauma and more insomnia in blast injury. Among those with PTSD, higher rates of OSA in non-injured patients raises the possibility that pre-existing sleep apnea predisposes soldiers to PTSD,” they wrote in the study abstract.
- Collen J, et al. "Sleep disorders in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans" CHEST 2011; Vol. 140 Meeting Abstract 970A.