28 October 2019

Sleep is vital to overall health and wellbeing. It recharges body and mind, promotes muscle growth, and optimises brain function. But for many veterans with PTSD, a good night’s sleep is hard to achieve.

To address this issue, GMRF has launched the Veteran Sleep Therapy Study. Funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the study is investigating the use
of innovative coping and behavioural management techniques to improve the sleep of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and disturbed sleep.

Principal Investigator of the study, Dr Justine Evans says, “The statistics clearly show disturbed sleep is a widespread problem in veteran PTSD communities. What the stats can’t convey as clearly is the huge impact sleep disturbance has on quality of life.

“Disturbed sleep can prevent people from engaging in physical activity, from finding employment, engaging in family activities, and carrying out routine tasks.”

The study offers free group treatment in the form of either Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), or CBT-I and Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) combined.

CBT-I, the current gold-standard treatment, aims to improve sleep habits and behaviours by identifying and changing the thoughts and the behaviours that affect the ability of a person to sleep or sleep well.

IRT aims to equip patients with strategies to alter recurrent nightmares by “rescripting” an alternative, nondistressing ending to a nightmare. Individuals practice “rehearsing” the altered dream, with the goal of reducing the frequency and intensity of upsetting dreams.

“The study is focusing on some of the most common sleep problems that veterans’ with PTSD experience, including insomnia, nightmares, and sleep apnoea. A unique feature of the study is that we are also interested in knowing whether individual risk of sleep apnoea, which is common in veterans, impacts on CBT-I and IRT treatment outcomes,” Dr Evans says.

To find out more about the GMRF Veteran Sleep Therapy Study, CLICK HERE.