Effects of a brief behavioral treatment for PTSD-related sleep disturbances: a pilot study

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Mar;45(3):627-32. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.04.009. Epub 2006 Jun 14.


Objective: Sleep disturbances are a core feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and are often resistant to first-line pharmacological and psychological PTSD interventions. The goal of this pilot study was to explore the effects of a very brief intervention for PTSD-related nightmares and insomnia in victims of violent crimes with PTSD.

Methods: Seven adult victims of violent crimes with a current diagnosis of PTSD received a single, 90-min intervention session that used cognitive-behavioral techniques aimed at reducing post-traumatic nightmares and insomnia. Sleep diary measures, and measures of sleep quality, PTSD severity, anxiety, and depression were completed at baseline and 6 weeks post-intervention.

Results: Improvements in self-report and sleep diary measures of sleep quality and dream frequency were observed post-intervention. Clinically meaningful reductions in daytime PTSD symptom severity were also observed.

Conclusions: A very brief behavioral intervention targeting post-traumatic nightmares and insomnia was associated with significant improvements in sleep and daytime PTSD symptom severity. Brief sleep-focused intervention may be helpful adjuncts to first-line PTSD treatments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Dreams / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Violence / psychology
  • Wakefulness