Serving soldiers in the military are more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if they display symptoms of insomnia before they are deployed.
This is according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania and the Naval Health Research Center, both of which analysed data from 15,204 first-time deployees across all three branches of the US armed forces.
Scientists at the two institutions found evidence 522 soldiers developed PTSD and 303 had depression following their tour of duty. They linked this with lower levels of sleep, with those reporting less than six hours a day substantially more likely to develop the mental illness.
Professor Philip Gehrman, a member of the Penn Sleep Center and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, said: “We found that insomnia is both a symptom and a risk factor for mental illness and may present a modifiable target for intervention among military personnel.”
The findings of Professor Gehrman’s study may have an impact on sleep and stress management in the armed forces.
Thousands of soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed PTSD.