Clinical and polysomnographic features of trauma associated sleep disorder

Matthew S. Brock, Panagiotis Matsangas, Jennifer L. Creamer, Tyler Powell, Shana L. Hansen, Shannon N. Foster, Tyler C. Self, Vincent Mysliwiec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


STUDY OBJECTIVES: Trauma associated sleep disorder is a proposed parasomnia that develops after trauma with clinical features of trauma related nightmares, disruptive nocturnal behaviors, and autonomic disturbances. The purpose of this case series is to better characterize the clinical and video-polysomnographic features of patients meeting clinical criteria for this proposed parasomnia. METHODS: Semistructured clinical interview and detailed video-polysomnography review of 40 patients. Movements and vocalizations in rapid eye movement sleep were quantified according to the rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder severity scale. RESULTS: Patients (n = 40, 32 males) were service members and veterans with a median age of 38.9 years (range 24-57 years) who reported trauma related nightmares and disruptive nocturnal behaviors at home. On video-polysomnography, 28 (71.8%) patients had disruptive nocturnal behaviors in rapid eye movement sleep consisting of limb, head, and axial movements; vocalizations were present in 8 (20%). On the rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder severity scale, most (n = 28, 71.8%) had a low rating but those with greater severity (n = 11, 28.2%) had a higher prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (P = .013) and markedly less N3 sleep (P = .002). The cohort had a high rate of insomnia (n = 35, 87.5%) and obstructive sleep apnea (n = 19, 47.5%). Most patients were treated with prazosin (n = 29, 72.5%) with concomitant behavioral health interventions (n = 25, 64.1%); 15 (51.7%) patients receiving prazosin reported improved symptomatology. CONCLUSIONS: Disruptive nocturnal behaviors can be captured on video-polysomnography during rapid eye movement sleep, although they may be less pronounced than what patients report in their habitual sleeping environment. Clinical and video-polysomnographic correlations are invaluable in assessing patients with trauma associated sleep disorder to document objective abnormalities. This case series provides a further basis for establishing trauma associated sleep disorder as a unique parasomnia. CITATION: Brock MS, Matsangas P, Creamer JL, et al. Clinical and polysomnographic features of trauma associated sleep disorder. J Clin Sleep Med. 2022;18(12):2775-2784.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2775-2784
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • combat
  • disruptive nocturnal behaviors
  • dream enactment behavior
  • military
  • nightmares
  • parasomnia
  • trauma associated sleep disorder
  • trauma related nightmares
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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