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J Clin Sleep Med. 2015 Jul 15;11(7):735-9. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.4846.

The Role of Trauma Type in the Risk for Insomnia.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC.



Insomnia is common following exposure to trauma and can occur independently or as a feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there is limited research identifying risk factors associated with the development of insomnia following exposure to a traumatic event. The goal of this study was to evaluate the role of specific trauma types in the risk for insomnia in a community sample of urban African Americans young adults.


A sample of 554 nonclinical, urban, young adult African Americans was recruited for a larger study from which 465 participants were utilized for this study based on their completion of all study self-report measures. Participants were initially screened by phone to determine whether they provisionally met study criteria. Once selected, participants underwent informed consent and then completed a battery of self-report measures that included the Life Events Checklist, the PTSD Checklist, the Insomnia Severity Index, and the Fear of Sleep Index.


Of the seven trauma categories that were endorsed by at least 20% of the sample, results from logistic regression models indicated that sexual trauma, physical assault, accidents, natural disasters, and sudden violent death predicted insomnia independent of sex. However, PTSD symptom severity and nocturnal fears differentially influenced the relationship between trauma type and risk for insomnia.


Exposure to specific types of trauma increases the odds of insomnia twofold to threefold. Additionally, PTSD symptom severity and nocturnal fears contribute differentially to the relationship between trauma exposure and insomnia suggesting the possibility of multiple underlying pathways.


PTSD; insomnia; sleep disturbance; trauma

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