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J Psychosom Res. 2012 Feb;72(2):89-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.11.010. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

Placebo-controlled comparison of prazosin and cognitive-behavioral treatments for sleep disturbances in US Military Veterans.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



Pharmacological and cognitive-behavioral treatments targeting insomnia and nightmares have been shown to be effective in the treatment of military veterans with sleep complaints comorbid with symptoms of stress-related disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but the two approaches have not been directly compared. This randomized controlled trial compared the effects of prazosin vs. a behavioral sleep intervention (BSI), targeting nightmares and insomnia against a placebo pill control condition on sleep and daytime symptoms.


Fifty United States military veterans (mean age 40.9years, SD=13.2years) with chronic sleep disturbances were randomized to prazosin (n=18), BSI (n=17), or placebo (n=15). Each intervention lasted 8weeks. Participants completed self-report measures of insomnia severity, sleep quality, and sleep disturbances. All kept a sleep diary throughout the intervention period. Polysomnographic studies were conducted pre- and post-intervention.


Both active treatment groups showed greater reductions in insomnia severity and daytime PTSD symptom severity. Sleep improvements were found in 61.9% of those who completed the active treatments and 25% of those randomized to placebo.


BSI and prazosin were both associated with significant sleep improvements and reductions in daytime PTSD symptoms in this sample of military veterans. Sleep-focused treatments may enhance the benefits of first-line PTSD treatments.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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