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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
This Issue: Ensuring High-Quality Care | Table of Contents: Fall 2018 | Download this issue

Noteworthy Publications

Resilience may protect against the effects of poor sleep


Veterans who have certain psychological traits may be better positioned to weather the effects of poor sleep, say VA researchers. <em>(Photo for illustrative purposes only. <em>(Photo ©iStock/vm)</em>
Veterans who have certain psychological traits may be better positioned to weather the effects of poor sleep, say VA researchers. (Photo for illustrative purposes only. ©iStock/vm)

Veterans who have certain psychological traits may be better positioned to weather the effects of poor sleep, say VA researchers. (Photo for illustrative purposes only. ©iStock/vm)

A study of more than 1,100 Veterans found that the traits of "adaptability" and "self-efficacy"—both indicators of psychological resilience—buffered the negative effects of poor sleep.

In a study published in Military Psychology, Dr. Susan Nicole Hastings and colleagues assessed sleep and resiliency in a group of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. The team used data from the Study of Post-Deployment Mental Health. Hastings, who is an investigator at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina, and her team wanted to examine the relationship between poor sleep and psychological distress in otherwise healthy Veterans.

Using a variety of questionnaires that measured sleep quality, resilience, anxiety, combat exposure, and traumatic life events, the researchers ran analyses to examine the degree to which poor sleep contributes to distress. They found that measures of resilience, like "the ability to adapt to change" and "the tendency to bounce back after hardship," had a protective effect against distress resulting from poor sleep.

Studies show that there is an association between poor sleep and mental health disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder. Yet, lack of sleep can also worsen psychological distress in healthy individuals. Problems with sleep are common in Veterans. One study found that more than two-thirds of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who returned from deployment without a mental health disorder complained of insomnia.

Veterans can experience unique circumstances after returning home from deployment. Stressors that might affect adequate sleep include worries over finances, securing employment, and renegotiating family roles, say the researchers. Veterans are also more likely to return home with physical injuries that can contribute to chronic stress and difficulty sleeping.


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