Sleep in posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of polysomnographic findings

Sleep Med Rev. 2019 Dec:48:101210. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2019.08.004. Epub 2019 Aug 26.


Polysomnographic studies have been performed to examine sleep abnormalities in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but clear associations between PTSD and sleep disturbances have not been established. A systematic review of the evidence examining the polysomnographic changes in PTSD patients compared with controls was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, All EBM databases, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases. Meta-analysis was undertaken where possible. The searches identified 34 studies, 31 of which were appropriate for meta-analysis. Pooled results indicated decreased total sleep time, slow wave sleep and sleep efficiency, and increased wake time after sleep onset in PTSD patients compared with healthy controls. PTSD severity was associated with decreased sleep efficiency and slow wave sleep percentage. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep percentage was significantly decreased in PTSD patients compared with controls in studies including participants with mean age below 30 y, but not in studies with other mean age groups (30-40 y and >40 y). Our study shows that polysomnographic abnormalities are present in PTSD. Sex, age, PTSD severity, type of controls, medication status, adaptation night, polysomnographic scoring rules and study location are several of the demographic, clinical and methodological factors that contribute to heterogeneity between studies.

Keywords: Polysomnography; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Rapid eye movement sleep; meta-Analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep, REM
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*