Sleep disorder symptoms are associated with greater posttraumatic stress and anger symptoms in U.S. Army service members seeking treatment for PTSD.

Miles, S. R., Pruiksma, K. E., Slavish, D., Dietch, J. R., Wardle-Pinkston, S., Litz, B. T., Rodgers, M., Nicholson, K. L., Young-McCaughan, S., Dondanville, K. A., Nakase-Richardson, R., Mintz, J., Keane, T. M., Peterson, A. L., Resick, P. A., & Taylor, D. J., on behalf of the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD.
Jun 10, 2022

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 18(6), 1617-1627.


Characterize associations between sleep impairments and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, including anger, in service members seeking treatment for PTSD.


Ninety-three US Army personnel recruited into a PTSD treatment study completed the baseline assessment. State of the science sleep measurements included (1) retrospective, self-reported insomnia, (2) prospective sleep diaries assessing sleep patterns and nightmares, and (3) polysomnography (PSG) measured sleep architecture and obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea (OSAH) severity. Dependent variables included self-report measures of PTSD severity and anger severity. Pearson correlations and multiple linear regression analyses examined if sleep symptoms, not generally measured in PTSD populations, were associated with PTSD and anger severity.


All participants met PTSD, insomnia, and nightmare diagnostic criteria. Mean sleep efficiency = 70%, total sleep time = 5.5 hours, obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea (OSAH index = 5) = 53%, and clinically significant anger = 85%. PTSD severity was associated with insomnia severity (ß =.58), nightmare severity (ß = .24), nightmare frequency (ß = .31), and time spent in Stage 1 sleep (ß = .27, all p < .05). Anger severity was associated with insomnia severity (ß =37), nightmare severity (ß = .28), and OSAH during rapid eye movement (ß = .31, all p < .05).


Insomnia and nightmares were related to PTSD and anger severity, and OSAH was related to anger. Better assessment and evidence-based treatment of these comorbid sleep impairments in service members with PTSD and significant anger, should result in better PTSD, anger, and quality of life outcomes.