The percentage of 500 active duty U.S. military personnel who underwent a sleep medicine evaluation and polysomnography who had weekly nightmares, according to a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine -- Nightmares in United States Military Personnel With Sleep Disturbances. Yet only 3.9% of the study participants "reported nightmares as a reason for evaluation."
According to the researchers, "Trauma-related nightmares occurred in 60% of those patients with nightmares." 70-80% of the study participants had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
An editorial in the journal about this study -- Doomed to Repeat History: The Burden of Trauma-Related Nightmares in Military Personnel -- said:
This article should serve as (another) call to action to recognize nightmares as a marker of serious underlying sleep and behavioral health disturbances. Within the sleep community, continuing to develop expertise on this topic is critical. Forecasted shortages in sleep physicians and behavioral clinicians with this expertise will be a challenge. Outreach to referral sources should focus on stressing nightmares as an underdiagnosed condition and a risk factor for suicide in an already compromised population. Given the psychological stressors that accompany two decades of constant war in the Middle East and the growing prevalence of sleep disorders, service members represent an at-risk and underrecognized population for nightmares.
Throughout the month of April, we'll be highlighting efforts to improve the sleep lives of Service members and Veterans. Visit our Sleep Spotlight page here for info, blog postings, resources, training events and more!