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US Military Personnel Affected by Sleep Disorders

Update Date: Feb 01, 2013 06:20 AM EST

There has been a high occurrence of sleeping disorders within the U.S. military personnel, a recent study reveals.

Lt. Col. Vincent Mysliwiec, M.D., was the main investigator and lead author of the study, and chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma. The results were published in the journal Sleep.

For the research, 725 military personnel were enlisted. They were mainly combat veterans who had issues with sleeping and participated in a study by the Madigan lab in 2010. There was a concerningly high number of volunteers who were suffering from insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. This was mainly due to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other combat-related ailments.

"While sleep deprivation is part of the military culture, the high prevalence of short sleep duration in military personnel with sleep disorders was surprising. The potential risk of increased accidents as well as long-term clinical consequences of both short sleep duration and a sleep disorder in our population is unknown," Mysliwiec was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

The author found some soldiers to be suffering from "paradoxical insomnia", which is originated from the alertness they have to maintain while at war, where the soldiers felt the lack of sleep even after a full night's rest. The author also finds that almost two-thirds of the volunteers enlisted slept less than six hours a day. Of the 725 patients, 51 percent were diagnosed with various degrees of obstructive sleep apnea, where breathing problems prevent a person from sleeping.

"Mysliwiec and colleagues have made a significant contribution to our understanding of the link between sleep disorders and service-related illnesses associated with combat operations. Their findings highlight the need for policy and culture change in our military organizations and continued research to understand and ameliorate the injuries these veterans have sustained. Better appreciations of the causal factors associated with veteran's health will lead to better policies for transition to civilian life and ultimately minimize the cost of veterans' health care to society," Nita Lewis Shatttuck, PhD, and Stephanie A. T. Brown, M.S., postgraduate students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, wrote in the study commentary.

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