ptsd and sleep apnea

the sleep disorders  most associated with ptsd are insomnia and nightmares. men, who represent a larger percentage of the veteran population, are also more likely to have sleep apnea. individuals with ptsd who also experience sleep problems such as osa are likely to experience more severe depression, a higher suicide risk, increased substance abuse, and a poorer quality of life.

the resulting sleep deprivation can impair mood and decision-making — reducing a person’s likelihood of using cpap therapy, the common treatment for sleep apnea. because difficulty sleeping is a common arousal symptom of ptsd, better sleep hygiene is often part of the ptsd treatment plan, along with talk therapy and medication. one study of individuals with ptsd and osa found that those who followed their cpap therapy experienced a 75% improvement in ptsd symptoms. with consistent treatment, including cpap and talk therapy, the symptoms of ptsd and osa can be significantly reduced.

this study is the first to suggest that the berlin may be a useful screener for osa in a younger oef/oif/ond veteran population with ptsd. however there is a dearth of information on the relationship between ptsd and osa among younger veterans with ptsd. the first goal of the study was to describe the rates of screening as high-risk for osa in a cohort of oef/oif/ond veterans presenting to a va outpatient ptsd clinic. while males tend to have higher rates of osa than females, gender was not included in analyses because the sample was 93.3% male. every 10-point increase in pcl-s scores, considered a clinically significant change,25 was associated with a 40% increase in the probability of screening as high risk for osa.

our first goal was to describe the rates of screening as high risk for osa in a cohort of oef/oif/ond veterans presenting to a va outpatient ptsd clinic for mental health evaluation, and 69.2% screened as high risk for osa. one explanation may be due to the shared risk factors of ptsd and osa in a military population. the high rate of agreement between the berlin and psg, and the fact that we found similar rates of osa as other studies using psg with oef/oif/ond veterans, further suggest that the berlin may hold promise as a screening tool for osa among oef/oif/ond veterans and suggests there is enough evidence of sensitivity/specificity to merit a formal investigation of the predictive value of the berlin in this population. our study is the first to suggest that the berlin may be a useful screener for osa in a veteran population with ptsd. thus, screening for osa in younger veterans with ptsd may need to be a higher priority in the clinics with increased access to psg than what is in currently available or clinically used.

the disturbed sleep caused by sleep apnea can contribute to sleep deprivation that worsens ptsd symptoms, making recovery more difficult. even among veterans with ptsd, sleep disturbances are nearly universal. beyond the ptsd criterion symptoms of insomnia and nightmares, 40% to 98% of veterans with apnea can improve not only sleep symptoms, but overall ptsd severity as well (tamanna, parker, lyons, & ullah, 2014). the primary treatment for osa is, .

results show that 69.2 percent of participants had a high risk for sleep apnea, and this risk increased with ptsd symptom severity. the most common sleep problems associated with ptsd include nightmares and insomnia. however, increasing research has shown that there is a strong connection post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd) and sleep apnea have been linked by a number of clinical studies. some research even suggests that consistent treatment of, .

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