Anxious people at risk for sleep disturbance after traumatic events

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A recent study suggests that people with anxious personalities are more likely to develop sleep disturbance after traumatic events. According to a study published in the November 1st issue of the journal SLEEP, people with the highest levels of stress are 2.4 times more at risk of developing sleep disturbances after a traumatic event. However, the increased risk may dissipate after the first month following a traumatic event, according to Jussi Vahtera, M.D., and colleagues. Researches studied data from the longitudinal Health and Social Support study, whose sample was composed of Finnish inhabitants. The study analyzed responses from 19,199 individuals who took the survey in 1998 and then again five years later. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study’s findings:

These findings from a large, population-based study provide prospective evidence that people who are anxious by nature are predisposed to sleep disturbances, the researchers said.

They analyzed data from the longitudinal Health and Social Support study with a representative sample of the Finnish population. The analysis included 19,199 respondents who completed a survey both at baseline in 1998 and five years later.

At baseline, participants fell into four age groups — 20 to 24, 30 to 34, 40 to 44, or 50 to 54 — and 13% reported sleep disturbances. At follow-up, 11% reported new-onset sleep disturbances.

Liability to anxiety, indicated by a general feeling of stressfulness (as measured by the Reeder stress inventory) and symptoms of sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity, was strongly linked to disturbed sleep, the researchers said.

Men and women with the highest levels of general stress on a day-to-day basis were 2.4 times more likely to develop new-onset sleep disturbances compared with those in the lowest quartile (95% confidence interval 2.0 to 2.7). For symptoms of sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity, the odds of developing sleep disturbances were 2.2 times higher for those in the highest quartile than for those in the lowest quartile (95% CI 1.9 to 2.5).

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