7 Types of Trauma Associated with Insomnia

Martin Reed | Apr 5th 2016 Apr 10th 2017

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Until recently, experts knew that insomnia could be a symptom of trauma, but there wasn’t enough research to determine which precise risk factors from individual traumatic events led to the development of insomnia. A 2015 study examining over 500 participants helped researchers identify seven trauma categories and how each increased insomnia risk. Here are the results:

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Sexual trauma

In the study, sexual trauma was defined as a result of experiences such as sexual assault, sexual abuse, and any unwanted sexual encounter/experience. Those who were victims of sexual trauma were 3.3 times more likely to experience mild to severe insomnia, and 2.9 times more likely to experience moderate to severe insomnia.

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Physical assault

Instances of physical assault were not only defined as personally physical attacks, but also included assault with use of a weapon. Victims of physical assault were 2.1 times more likely to experience mild to severe insomnia, and 3.3 times more likely to experience moderate to severe insomnia.

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Accidents

This category included transportation accidents and serious accidents at work, home, or during a recreational activity. Results showed that those involved in an accident were 2.4 times more likely to experience mild to severe insomnia, but accidents were not found to predict moderate to severe insomnia.

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Natural disasters

Victims of natural disasters were categorized as anyone who had experienced, witnessed or learned about a natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.Participants who were exposed to a natural disaster were only 1.5 times more likely to experience mild to severe insomnia, but exposure was not found to predict moderate to severe insomnia.

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Exposure to sudden, violent death

This category included participants who were exposed to homicide or suicide. Researchers found that those in this category had increased odds of mild to severe insomnia by a factor of 2.5 and increased odds of moderate to severe insomnia by a factor of 2.4.

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The link between insomnia and PTSD

This study did however further confirm the link between insomnia and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Researchers reported that the increased odds for mild to severe insomnia in those exposed to physical assault and sudden violent death were due to PTSD symptoms and an associated fear of sleep.

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The link between insomnia and PTSD

When examining the risk for developing moderate to severe insomnia, researches found that PTSD symptoms and fear of sleep accounted completely for the increased insomnia risk in those who experienced sexual trauma, physical assault, and sudden violent death.

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Source

Brown, Tyish S. Hall, Ameenat Akeeb, and Thomas A. Mellman. “The Role of Trauma Type in the Risk for Insomnia.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine : JCSM : Official Publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. July 15, 2015. Accessed April 01, 2016.