Sleep disturbances in Australian Vietnam veterans [1]

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that may develop following exposure to a traumatic event. PTSD occurs within the general community (1.9% – 8.8% depending on environment) but is much more frequently diagnosed amongst war veterans (25%).

PTSD symptoms are divided into four main disturbances:

  • re-experiencing of the event
  • avoidance of reminders of the event
  • negative mood and responses
  • anxiety and over responsiveness to stimuli


Sleep disturbance is very common with up to 87% of patients with PTSD reporting insomnia, nightmares, and broken sleep. Unfortunately – and as we might expect – if a veteran experiences disturbed sleep, their other PTSD symptoms such as depression and anxiety may be much worse. In order to better understand the prevalence of sleep disturbances within the Australian veteran community, sleep information was evaluated in 214 Vietnam veterans with and without PTSD from the PTSD Initiative. The uniqueness of this study was that we were able to compare the prevalence of various sleep disturbances in veterans that suffer from PTSD to those in veterans who have experienced similar trauma but who had not been diagnosed with PTSD.


Sleep information was gathered from 214 Vietnam Veterans and is summarised in the table below.

The significant disturbance to sleep amongst the PTSD sufferers is clear. This data adds to the information we have on the effect of PTSD on the lives of our veterans and their families and assists in the development of supportive health care strategies.

Click on this link to read the paper
Sleep Disturbances in Australian Vietnam Veterans With and Without
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

[1] Baird T, McLeay S, Harvey W, Theal R, Law D, O’Sullivan R; PTSD Initiative. Sleep disturbances in Australian Vietnam veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(5):745–752.