An Initial Report of Sleep Disorders in Women in the U.S. Military

Dale C. Capener, Matthew S. Brock, Shana L. Hansen, Panagiotis Matsangas, Vincent Mysliwiec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sleep disorders are increasingly recognized in active duty service members (ADSM). While there are multiple studies in male ADSM, there are limited data regarding sleep disorders in women in the military. The purpose of this study was to characterize sleep disorders in female ADSM referred for clinical evaluation to provide a better understanding of this unique population. Materials and Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of female ADSM who underwent a sleep medicine evaluation and an attended polysomnogram (PSG). Demographic and polysomnogram variables, as well as medical records, were reviewed. Associated illnesses to include post-traumatic stress disorder, pain disorders, anxiety, and depression, were recorded. Results: The cohort consisted of 101 women. The average age was 33.9 ± 9.0 years and body mass index was 27.3 ± 4.5, with an average Epworth Sleepiness Scale score of 12.9 ± 5.2, and Insomnia Severity Index score of 17.6 ± 5.7. Overall, 36.6% were diagnosed with insomnia only, 14.9% with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) only, and 34.7% met diagnostic criteria for both insomnia and OSA. The average apnea-hypopnea index for the entire cohort was 5.37 ± 7.04/h whereas it was 10.34 ± 3.14/h for those meeting diagnostic criteria for OSA. The women referred for sleep evaluations had the following rates of associated illnesses: pain disorders (59.4%), anxiety (48.5%), depression (46.5%), and post-traumatic stress disorder (21.8%). For patients with OSA, the relative risk of having post-traumatic stress disorder was 2.72 (95% confidence interval 1.16-6.39). Conclusions: Women in the U.S. military who have sleep disorders have a high rate of behavioral medicine and pain disorders. Interestingly, nearly 50% of active duty females referred for a sleep study have OSA while not necessarily manifesting the typical signs of obesity or increased age. The reasons for this finding are not completely understood, though factors related to military service may potentially contribute. The findings from our study indicate a need for increased awareness and evaluation of sleep disorders in women in the military, especially those with behavioral medicine disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E266-E271
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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