Sleep quality in treatment-seeking veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom: the role of cognitive coping strategies and unit cohesion.J Psychosom Res. 2010 Nov; 69(5):441-8.JP
Sleep difficulties are common in individuals exposed to stress or trauma, and maladaptive cognitive coping strategies, such as worry and fear of losing vigilance, as well as low social support, may further impair sleep quality. This study examined the severity and correlates of sleep difficulties in a sample of treatment-seeking veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF-OIF).
A total of 167 OEF-OIF veterans seeking behavioral or primary care services completed a questionnaire containing measures of sleep quality, combat exposure, psychopathology, fear of loss of vigilance, cognitive coping strategies, and unit and postdeployment social support within 1 year of returning from deployment.
Mean Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory scores in the full sample were indicative of severely impaired sleep. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was associated with increased sleep difficulties, most notably sleep disturbances, daytime dysfunction, and sleep quality. Hierarchical regression analysis in the full sample revealed that PTSD symptoms and scores on measures of worry and fear of loss of vigilance were positively associated with sleep difficulties and that scores on a measure of unit member support were negatively associated with sleep difficulties. Among veterans with PTSD, fear of loss of vigilance was positively associated with sleep difficulties and cognitive distraction and unit member support were negatively associated with sleep difficulties.
Treatment-seeking OEF-OIF veterans report severe sleep difficulties, with more pronounced impairment in veterans with PTSD. The results of this study suggest that interventions to mitigate worry and fear of loss of vigilance and to enhance perceived unit member support may be helpful in reducing sleep difficulties following return from deployment in this population.