A study abstract provided by Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders examines a study that suggests optimizing sleep quality following trauma may allow sleep itself to be recruited in the treatment of trauma and stress disorders.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is accompanied by disturbed sleep and an impaired ability to learn and remember extinction of conditioned fear. Following a traumatic event, the full spectrum of PTSD symptoms typically requires several months to develop. During this time, sleep disturbances such as insomnia, nightmares, and fragmented rapid eye movement sleep predict later development of PTSD symptoms. Only a minority of individuals exposed to trauma go on to develop PTSD. We hypothesize that sleep disturbance resulting from an acute trauma, or predating the traumatic experience, may contribute to the etiology of PTSD.