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VOLUME 33, ISSUE 12

SLEEP PATTERNS IN MILITARY PERSONNEL
Sleep Patterns Before, During, and After Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan

Amber D. Seelig, MPH1,6; Isabel G. Jacobson, MPH1; Besa Smith, MPH, PhD1; Tomoko I. Hooper, MD, MPH2; Edward J. Boyko, MD, MPH3; Gary D. Gackstetter, DVM, MPH, PhD4; Philip Gehrman, PhD, CBSM5; Carol A. Macera, MS, PhD6; Tyler C. Smith, MS, PhD1

1Department of Deployment Health Research, Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA; 2Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD; 3Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; 4Analytic Services, Inc. (ANSER), Arlington, VA; 5Department of Psychiatry, Penn Sleep Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; 6San Diego State University, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego, CA



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Study Objectives:

To determine the associations between deployment in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sleep quantity and quality.

Design:

Longitudinal cohort study

Setting:

The Millennium Cohort Study survey is administered via a secure website or US mail.

Participants:

Data were from 41,225 Millennium Cohort members who completed baseline (2001–2003) and follow-up (2004–2006) surveys. Participants were placed into 1 of 3 exposure groups based on their deployment status at follow-up: nondeployed, survey completed during deployment, or survey completed postdeployment.

Measurements and Results:

Study outcomes were self-reported sleep duration and trouble sleeping, defined as having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Adjusted mean sleep duration was significantly shorter among those in the deployed and postdeployment groups compared with those who did not deploy. Additionally, male gender and greater stress were significantly associated with shorter sleep duration. Personnel who completed their survey during deployment or postdeployment were significantly more likely to have trouble sleeping than those who had not deployed. Lower self-reported general health, female gender, and reporting of mental health symptoms at baseline were also significantly associated with increased odds of trouble sleeping.

Conclusions:

Deployment significantly influenced sleep quality and quantity in this population though effect size was mediated with statistical modeling that included mental health symptoms. Personnel reporting combat exposures or mental health symptoms had increased odds of trouble sleeping. These findings merit further research to increase understanding of temporal relationships between sleep and mental health outcomes occurring during and after deployment.

Citation:

Seelig AD; Jacobson IG; Smith B; Hooper TI; Boyko EJ; Gackstetter GD; Gehrman P; Macera CA; Smith TC. Sleep patterns before, during, and after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. SLEEP 2010;33(12):1615-1622.

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