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Deployment-Related Insomnia in Military Personnel and Veterans

Abstract

Insomnia is a prevalent disorder that greatly impacts military personnel, especially those deployed in support of combat efforts. Deployment-related stressors like combat exposure, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) irregular sleep-wake schedules, and adjustment to the return home all contribute to insomnia. However, insomnia can also exacerbate the deployment experience and is a risk factor for traumatic stress reactions such as PTSD, depression, and suicide. Military personnel with mTBI are significantly impacted by insomnia; the majority experience sleep disruption and this can impede recovery and rehabilitation. As more service members return home from deployment, treatment is vital to reduce the impact of insomnia. Preliminary outcome data, showing positive results for reduction of sleep disruption, has been found with treatments such as combined cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia (CBTI) and imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT), preference-based interventions, as well as efforts to broadly disseminate CBTI. The recent literature on the impact and treatment of deployment-related insomnia is reviewed.

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Acknowledgments

Dr. Bramoweth’s work is supported by resources and funding from the VISN 4 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC, Director: D. Oslin; Pittsburgh Site Director: G. Haas), VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Dr. Germain’s work is supported by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (PT073961 W81XWH-08-1-0637; PR054093-W81XWH-07-PTSD-IIRA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH080696). The contents do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

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Adam D. Bramoweth and Anne Germain declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Anne Germain.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Sleep Disorders

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Bramoweth, A.D., Germain, A. Deployment-Related Insomnia in Military Personnel and Veterans. Curr Psychiatry Rep 15, 401 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-013-0401-4

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Keywords

  • Insomnia
  • Comorbid insomnia
  • Military personnel
  • Veterans
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Suicide
  • Psychotherapy
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Sleep disorders
  • Psychiatry