What is one of the most common symptoms that comes to mind when you think of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? If you thought of nightmares, you’re not wrong. In fact, up to 61% of people who have PTSD experience nightmares on a regular basis (Pigeon, Campbell, Possemato, & Ouimette, 2013).
Blog posts with the tag "Insomnia"
I don’t have to tell you that jet lag can impact the first few days of travel, regardless of whether you’re on vacation or a deployment, and even if you’re only traveling through a couple of different time zones. Many of our physical and cognitive functions are regulated by our circadian rhythm, including alertness, logical reasoning, and appetite (Kryger, Roth, & Dement, 2016). So symptoms associated with jet lag – grogginess, mood changes, fatigue – result from a systemic mismatch between our personal circadian rhythm and the local time. In general, it takes about one day to adjust to each hour of time change when traveling across time zones. However, a recent trip to Australia, which is (on average) 16 hours ahead of my Eastern US time zone, would take some serious adjustments ahead of time.
Renowned sleep researcher, Dr. Anne Germain from the University of Pittsburg, reviewed her and others’ research at the 14th Annual Amygdala, Stress, and PTSD Conference on April 16th in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Germain’s talk, “Wake up to Sleep! A Translational Perspective of the Role of Sleep in Readiness and Resilience" was presented to over 300 clinicians, researchers and graduate students.
Insomnia among Service members receives a lot of well-deserved attention, as evidenced by the need for the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) workshops CDP provides. That said, insufficient sleep or sleep deprivation is arguably more common. Data shows while approximately 20% of soldiers score above the cutoff score on an insomnia screener (Taylor et al, 2016), 69-72% of Service members obtain six hours or less sleep nightly (Mysliwiec et al, 2013; Luxton et al, 2011). In other words, only a little over a quarter of Service members get into the recommended range of 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. Personally, I would go so far as to say that even seven hours of sleep is insufficient for the majority of people based on my evaluation of sleep research.
Relatively recent research has established sleep problems as an important predictor of elevated suicide risk. Specific aspects of sleep problems that are associated with greater suicide risk are not clear, but insomnia severity, insomnia duration, nightmare severity, and nightmare duration are possibilities. Since there are multiple dimensions of sleep that may play a role in suicide risk, more attention is needed to understand the mechanisms by which sleep influences one’s risk for suicide.