Friday, August 14, 2009

Trauma, Sleep Disorders and Treatments

I've been learning about how sleep disorders are often another health problem associated with violent victimization. To be honest, I had not thought much about how violent trauma may change survivors' sleep before now. Maybe this is true for others too? So I thought a brief summary of research on this topic may be useful to share with others here.

Though limited research has been conducted in this important area, the existing research shows an association among Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sleep disorders, and the experience of violence (see Kendall-Tackett's 2007 research). Violence survivors with PTSD are likely to struggle with sleep problems (see Caldwell's & Redeker's 2005 research).

Such sleep disorders may resolve once a survivor receives physical and behavioral care interventions that address disorders that underlie or exacerbate sleep difficulties such as chronic pain, substance abuse, depression, and PTSD. However, this resolution is not true for all survivors with sleep disorders, and many survivors will benefit from specialized sleep treatments.

When a violence survivor is identified in a physical or mental health care practice, Caldwell and Redeker recommened that the clinician should use a sleep hygiene checklist to assess the patient’s sleep. When paired with education about effective sleep hygiene, such assessments may improve a survivor’s sleep patterns. However, providers should also refer survivors to sleep centers if the survivor’s sleep patterns do not improve with either the implementation of sleep hygiene strategies or treatment for other health disorders.

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