A Review of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Sleep Disturbances

ZHANG Ye, REN Rong, YANG Ling-hui, TANG Xiang-dong


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by intrusive emotional memory, alertness and avoidance after individuals suffer from one or more traumatic events. With the exception of manifestations, sleep disturbances are also considered to be the core symptoms of PTSD. This article mainly discussed insomnia, nightmares, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and periodic limb movement during sleep (PLMS) in patients with PTSD. Existing evidence suggested that insomnia is a predictor of the development of PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is an important research direction for treating insomnia in PTSD patients. Nightmares are also the core symptom of PTSD. Prazosin and image rehearsal therapy are effective therapies to treat post-traumatic nightmares. The co-occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is over 40% in patients with PTSD. Preliminary studies have shown that continuous positive airway pressure therapy can improve PTSD symptoms in patients with PTSD comorbid OSA. In the process of diagnosis and treatment of PTSD patients, it is important to firstly evaluate whether PTSD patient comorbid OSA or insomnia, and then clinicians could further develop an appropriate treatment plan for these patients.


Keywords: Posttraumatic stress disorder, Insomnia, Nightmare, Obstructive sleep apnea


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