Sleep Problems Complicate PTSD Recovery

by U.S. Medicine

September 2, 2014

BETHESDA, MD – Recovery from post-traumatic stress and mood disorders can be complicated by sleep problems, which are common among active-duty servicemembers, according to a new study.

R. Gregory Lande, DO, the author of the study conducted at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center, called for enhanced sleep assessments that include traditional self-report tests and a home sleep study to “help identify previously undiscovered behavioral and respiratory problems among service members, particularly those with higher posttraumatic stress scores.”

The report was published recently in the TheJournal of the American Osteopathic Association. For the study, Lande reviewed medical records for active-duty servicemembers who completed enhanced sleep assessments during an 18-month period beginning in October 2010.1

With 76 records meeting the study criteria, 22 participants (29%) were found to have an apnea/hypopnea index that suggested mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Servicemembers with higher self-reported post-traumatic stress scores also reported a higher degree of both somatic and cognitive factors interfering with sleep initiation, according to the results, as well as less sleep time — mean difference of 38 minutes — and higher scores on the apnea/hypopnea index, the respiratory disturbance index, and the oxygen saturation index.

Overall, the study found that about one-third of the participants got less than six hours of sleep per night and, on average, spent a little more than one-fifth of each night awake.

1Lande RG. Sleep problems, post-traumatic stress, and mood disorders among active-duty servicemembers. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014 Feb;114(2):83-9. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2014.021. PubMed PMID: 24481800.

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