Effects of early nightmares on the development of sleep disturbances in motor vehicle accident victims

Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA.
Journal of Traumatic Stress (Impact Factor: 2.72). 12/2008; 21(6):548-55. DOI: 10.1002/jts.20368
Source: PubMed


The present study prospectively examined the extent to which trauma-related nightmares affected the subsequent development of insomnia symptoms in 314 motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims. Participants were assessed in-hospital and at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year post-MVA. Hierarchical linear regression analyses showed that 6-week PTSD symptoms (PTSS) and 3-month nightmares, but not 2-week nightmares were positively associated with sleep onset and maintenance problems reported at 3-month post-MVA. Nightmares reported at 3-months post-MVA were positively associated with 1-year sleep maintenance problems. These findings highlight the dynamic relationship between PTSS and sleep problems as well as the potential importance of early intervention for trauma-related nightmares as a means to prevent sleep problems after a traumatic experience.

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    • "In a small study of patients admitted to the hospital for traumatic injuries related to motor vehicle accidents, industrial accidents, and gunshots, fragmented REM sleep predicted PTSD 6 weeks later (Mellman et al., 2002). Conversely, a study of motor vehicle accident survivors found that PTSD and nightmares were shown to predict later sleep problems (Kobayashi et al., 2008). In a two-wave study of U.S. veterans, initial insomnia was significantly associated with increased PTSD and depression 8 months later, but PTSD and depression were not associated with later insomnia (Wright et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Sleep disturbances, including trouble falling and remaining asleep and recurrent nightmares, are symptoms of posttraumatic stress. A growing body of literature indicates that sleep disturbance may also convey vulnerability for the continuation of other symptoms of posttraumatic stress, including fear, anxiety, and heightened arousal. However, longitudinal research, which could help understand how these relationships unfold over time, has been limited. Method: The longitudinal relationships between sleep disturbance and posttraumatic stress were investigated in 779 Palestinian adults randomly selected and interviewed twice during the period from April 2008 to November 2008, amid ongoing violent political turmoil. The recruitment method produced a representative sample and excellent retention. Cross-panel structural equation modeling was used to examine relationships between sleep and distress across two study periods. Results: Results indicated that initial sleep problems were associated with increased posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and intrapersonal resource loss at follow-up 6 months later, but initial PTSD, depression, and intrapersonal resource loss were not associated with increased sleep problems at follow-up. Conclusions: Sleep problems may confer vulnerability to longer-term distress in the presence of ongoing political violence. Future research should examine whether interventions targeting trauma-related sleep problems may improve prevention and treatment for PTSD and related disorders.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Health Psychology
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    • "Prospective studies showed that insomnia immediately prior to trauma exposure and soon after trauma predicted the subsequent development of PTSD [29,30]. In addition, the presence of trauma-related nightmares within a month of serious injury predicted PTSD symptoms severity at 6-weeks and 1-year post-injury [31,32]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Women are approximately twice as likely as men to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after trauma exposure. Mechanisms underlying this difference are not well understood. Although sleep is recognized to have a critical role in PTSD and physical and psychological health more generally, research into the role of sleep in PTSD sex differences has been only recent. In this article, we review both animal and human studies relevant to sex differences in sleep and PTSD with an emphasis on the roles of sex hormones. Sleep impairment including insomnia, trauma-related nightmares, and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep fragmentation has been observed in individuals with chronic and developing PTSD, suggesting that sleep impairment is a characteristic of PTSD and a risk factor for its development. Preliminary findings suggested sex specific patterns of sleep alterations in developing and established PTSD. Sleep maintenance impairment in the aftermath of trauma was observed in women who subsequently developed PTSD, and greater REM sleep fragmentation soon after trauma was associated with developing PTSD in both sexes. In chronic PTSD, reduced deep sleep has been found only in men, and impaired sleep initiation and maintenance with PTSD have been found in both sexes. A limited number of studies with small samples have shown that sex hormones and their fluctuations over the menstrual cycle influenced sleep as well as fear extinction, a process hypothesized to be critical to the pathogenesis of PTSD. To further elucidate the possible relationship between the sex specific patterns of PTSD-related sleep alterations and the sexually dimorphic risk for PTSD, future studies with larger samples should comprehensively examine effects of sex hormones and the menstrual cycle on sleep responses to trauma and the risk/resilience for PTSD utilizing various methodologies including fear conditioning and extinction paradigms and animal models.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Biology of Sex Differences
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    • "Remarkably, sleep, and presumably rapid eye movement sleep (REMS), enhances the process of fear extinction. Longitudinal studies have reported an association between sleep disturbances in the early aftermath of trauma and the development of PTSD (Kobayashi, Sledjeski, Spoonster, Fallon, & Delahanty, 2008; Koren, Arnon, Lavie, & Klein, 2002; Mellman, Bustamante, Fins, Pigeon, & Nolan, 2002). Other studies also found that sleep disturbances before the trauma, as measured retrospectively, predicted PTSD (Bryant, Creamer, O'Donnell, Silove, & McFarlane, 2010; Mellman, David, Kulick-Bell, Hebding, & Nolan, 1995). "
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep facilitates the consolidation of fear extinction memory. Nightmares and insomnia are hallmark symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), possibly interfering with fear extinction and compromising recovery. A perpetual circle may develop when sleep disturbances increase the risk for PTSD and vice versa. To date, therapeutic options for alleviating sleep disturbances in PTSD are limited. WE CONDUCTED THREE STUDIES TO EXAMINE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLEEP AND POSTTRAUMATIC SYMPTOMS: (1) a prospective longitudinal cohort study examining the impact of pre-deployment insomnia symptoms and nightmares on the development of PTSD; (2) a cross-sectional study examining subjective sleep measures, polysomnography, endocrinological parameters, and memory in veterans with PTSD, veterans without PTSD, and healthy controls (HCs); (3) a randomized controlled trial (RCT) (n=14) comparing the effect of prazosin and placebo on sleep disturbances in veterans with PTSD. In addition to these studies, we systematically reviewed the literature on treatment options for sleep disturbances in PTSD. Pre-deployment nightmares predicted PTSD symptoms at 6 months post-deployment; however, insomnia symptoms did not. Furthermore, in patients with PTSD, a correlation between the apnea index and PTSD severity was observed, while obstructive sleep apnea syndrome was not more prevalent. We observed a significant increase in awakenings during sleep in patients with PTSD, which were positively correlated with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels, negatively correlated with growth hormone (GH) secretion, and the subjective perception of sleep depth. Also, heart rate was significantly increased in PTSD patients. Interestingly, plasma levels of GH during the night were decreased in PTSD. Furthermore, GH secretion and awakenings were independent predictors for delayed recall, which was lower in PTSD. In our RCT, prazosin was not associated with improvement of any subjective and objective sleep parameters. Only a few RCTs have been published. They show promising results for atypical antipsychotics and prazosin, the latter especially on nightmare reduction. Disturbed sleep due to nightmares increases the risk for PTSD. PTSD in turn leads to increased sleep fragmentation, decreased GH secretion, and frequent nightmares, which may again compromise fear extinction, synaptic plasticity, and recovery. This suggests that disturbed sleep is a precipitating and perpetuating factor in PTSD symptomatology, creating a perpetual circle. This dissertation suggests that activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is involved in disturbed sleep in patients with PTSD.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · European Journal of Psychotraumatology
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