Trauma associated sleep disorder: A parasomnia induced by trauma

Vincent Mysliwiec, Matthew S. Brock, Jennifer L. Creamer, Brian M. O'Reilly, Anne Germain, Bernard J. Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Nightmares and disruptive nocturnal behaviors that develop after traumatic experiences have long been recognized as having different clinical characteristics that overlap with other established parasomnia diagnoses. The inciting experience is typically in the setting of extreme traumatic stress coupled with periods of sleep disruption and/or deprivation. The limited number of laboratory documented cases and symptomatic overlap with rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have contributed to difficulties in identifying what is a unique parasomnia. Trauma associated sleep disorder (TSD) incorporates the inciting traumatic experience and clinical features of trauma related nightmares and disruptive nocturnal behaviors as a novel parasomnia. The aims of this theoretical review are to 1) summarize the known cases and clinical findings supporting TSD, 2) differentiate TSD from clinical disorders with which it has overlapping features, 3) propose criteria for the diagnosis of TSD, and 4) present a hypothetical neurobiological model for the pathophysiology of TSD. Hyperarousal, as opposed to neurodegenerative changes in RBD, is a component of TSD that likely contributes to overriding atonia during REM sleep and the comorbid diagnosis of insomnia. Lastly, a way forward to further establish TSD as an accepted sleep disorder is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-104
Number of pages11
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Combat
  • Military
  • Nightmares
  • Parasomnia
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)
  • Trauma
  • Trauma associated sleep disorder (TSD)
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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