Sleep Awareness Week: Nightmare disorder in military personnel linked to sleep disorders, finds study

Sleep Awareness Week: Nightmare disorder in military personnel linked to sleep disorders, finds study

A good night’s sleep is no doubt crucial to a sound mental health. While it is a known fact that being deprived of the eight hours of sleep every night may have a damaging effect on cognitive ability, continual kip disturbances can affect one’s mental health too. Sleep disorders characterized by difficulty in falling or staying asleep affect millions of American adults, including members of the armed forces.  

Now, a recent study has suggested that a major percentage of military personnel suffer from nightmare disorder, though only a few of them talk about their problems during their sleep evaluation by health care providers. Researchers in their study titled “Nightmares in United States Military Personnel With Sleep Disturbances” detailed how those afflicted with nightmare disorder were at a greater risk of being diagnosed with sleep disorders and mental problems.

Sleep disorders may trigger mental problems

According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in March 2018, the researchers noted that 60 percent of the observed sample of military personnel complained about being haunted by nightmares that instilled feelings of trauma and fear in their minds. Roughly 30 percent of them showed signs of suffering from clinically significant nightmares. The respondents with nightmare problems were five times at a greater likelihood of showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and four times more likely to be detected with symptoms of depression. Besides, they were three times more probable to suffer from anxiety and two times more vulnerable to complaining about insomnia.

While 74 percent of the participants had been deployed in some kind of active duty or the other, it was observed how those affected due to trauma-related nightmares were more prone to suffer from traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and anxiety/depression problems. Though nightmares were found to be relatively prevalent across the observed sample of military people, only 3.9 percent of them voiced about this problem as a sleep-related concern.

Commenting on the findings of the study, principal investigator Dr. Jennifer Creamer, medical director, Sleep Medicine Center at Martin Army Medical Center in Fort Benning, Georgia, said, “This research provides a basis for furthering the study and knowledge of nightmares in survivors of traumatic experiences. Treatment of nightmares can lead to improvement in sleep, quality of life, and other disorders such as suicidality.” Creamer said that the extremely common problem of nightmare disorder continues to receive very little recognition as a major kind of sleep disorder in military personnel.

Though this is not the first of its kind research on nightmare problems, the researchers used a comparatively larger sample to study the commonality and impact of sleep disorders. They observed almost 500 U.S. military personnel who were on active duty. The average age of the respondents was 38 years with nearly 78.5 percent being men. Track record of the participants revealed roughly 45.6 percent of them having served in the Army, approximately 45 percent in the Air Force and over 9 percent having worked for American Navy.

Sleep disorders are quite common among Americans across the country. According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), roughly 50-70 million U.S. adults are affected by some kind of sleep disorder. To educate the masses about the significance of sleep for overall well-being, Sleep Awareness Week is observed annually from March 11-17, 2018, across the country. This year’s theme, “Begin with Sleep” underscores how good sleep can help achieve both personal and professional goals.

A stitch in time saves nine

The importance of sleep as a part of one’s daily routine must not be ignored. Getting adequate amount of quality sleep keeps at bay possible emotional disorders. People tend to ignore nightmare problems, which only worsens the condition of their mental health in the long run.

If you or your loved one has been affected by sleep disturbances, it’s time to seek advice from psychologists employed with one of the best mental health facilities in California. The key to relief from any kind of mental illness lies in professional treatment. Problems like sleep disorders can be treated with medicines and cognitive behavioral therapies. A leading mental health rehab in California, Sovereign Health offers evidence-based treatment for any kind of psychiatric disorders. Call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 973-7164 or chat online with one of our counselors for more information about our top-notch mental health treatment centers in California.

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