Severe sleep disturbance in returning vets
Preliminary findings from a study focusing on the sleep disturbances of vets returning from the middle east conflict have yielded some intriguing results. According to Anne Germain, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburg, returning vets can have sleep disturbance just as severe as persons with insomnia. Vets who served in combat and are having difficulty with adjustment upon returning home “do not get good sleep like good sleepers,” said Dr. Germain. During her talk at the Professional Sleep Societies meeting Dr. Germain presented both subjective patient reports of sleep disturbance and objective findings from measures used in the study. The current findings are a part of a study that intends to gather data from 90 participants by the time of its close. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage today that discusses the findings:
In the sleep lab, Dr. Germain said, she tested 11 medication-free veterans, of whom nine met full criteria for current moderate-to-severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She also tested 11 medication-free and healthy volunteers who were good sleepers, using Cohen’s d-values to assess group differences with small, medium, and large effect sizes indicated by d-values of 0.20, 0.50, and 0.80, respectively.
* Had lower sleep efficiency (d=0.81), related to moderate increases in sleep latency (d=0.35), duration and number of nocturnal awakenings (d=0.49 and d=0.62, respectively), and reduced total sleep time (d=0.34).
Sleep efficiency was significantly and negatively correlated with PTSD severity, at P<0.001.
Pastoral Action Point: Adjustment is a major issue for most combat vets returning from war. One of the things that can help bring normal life back into perspective for returning vets is community. Obviously, church is a wonderful place to find compassionate, supportive community. As such, it is important to embrace returning vets, welcoming them back, letting them know that the church community embraces them. Perhaps a house visit, some home baked goods, or simply a phone call would be appropriate to reestablish connection with these heroes.