Insomnia characteristics and clinical correlates in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury: an exploratory study

D M Wallace, S Shafazand, A R Ramos, D Z Carvalho, H Gardener, D Lorenzo, W K Wohlgemuth
Sleep Medicine 2011, 12 (9): 850-9

BACKGROUND: There is limited data on chronic insomnia in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans, in whom post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) often co-exist. Our aim was to compare sleep characteristics of three groups of OEF/OIF veterans: (1) healthy sleepers (HS), (2) those with insomnia associated with PTSD and mTBI (PTSD-mTBI), and (3) those with insomnia associated with PTSD alone.

METHODS: Consecutive veterans with insomnia complaints (> 6 months) were recruited over 6 months from the Miami VA Post Deployment clinic. Participants completed a sleep disorders clinical interview, medical history, and questionnaires about insomnia, sleepiness, pain, fatigue, depression, PTSD, and health-related quality of life. They underwent polysomnography (PSG) with 2 weeks of actigraphy (ACT) and sleep diaries.

RESULTS: There were no differences in demographics or most questionnaire responses between PTSD and PTSD-mTBI groups. Subjective daytime sleepiness was significantly greater in PTSD-mTBI subjects compared with HS and PTSD participants. Significant co-morbid sleep disorders were noted in insomnia patients. PSG and ACT wake after sleep onset was significantly shorter in PTSD-mTBI subjects as compared with PTSD participants.

CONCLUSION: Insomnia patients with PTSD-mTBI were subjectively sleepier despite spending less time awake during the night than PTSD subjects, possibly as a consequence of head trauma.

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