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Clin Psychol Rev. 2003 May;23(3):377-407.

Sleep and posttraumatic stress disorder: a review.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, OX1 3UD, UK.


Research seeking to establish the relationship between sleep and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is in its infancy. An empirically supported theory of the relationship is yet to emerge. The aims of the present paper are threefold: to summarise the literature on the prevalence and treatment of sleep disturbance characteristic of acute stress disorder (ASD) and PTSD, to critically review this literature, and to draw together the disparate theoretical perspectives that have been proposed to account for the empirical findings. After a brief overview of normal human sleep, the literature specifying the relation between sleep disturbance and PTSD is summarized. This includes studies of the prevalence of sleep disturbance and nightmares, content of nightmares, abnormalities in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, arousal threshold during sleep, body movement during sleep, and breathing-related sleep disorders. In addition, studies of the treatment of sleep disturbance in individuals with PTSD are reviewed. We conclude that the role of sleep in PTSD is complex, but that it is an important area for further elucidating the nature and treatment of PTSD. Areas for future research are specified. In particular, a priority is to improve the methodology of the research conducted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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