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Study Ties Poor Quality of Sleep to Lower Physical Activity in People with PTSD

First Posted: Jul 17, 2014 04:04 AM EDT

A new study highlights a strong association between poor quality of sleep and lower physical activity among people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In the current study, PTSD was  linked with poor sleep quality at baseline. Those with current PTSD at baseline had poor physical activity even one year later.  Further analysis showed that sleep quality determined the association between baseline PTSD status and physical activity in the one year follow-up.  This adds to the evidence that lower sleep quality and reduced physical activity could  lead to negative health outcomes like obesity.

"We found that sleep quality was more strongly associated with physical activity one year later than was having a diagnosis of PTSD," said lead author Lisa Talbot, postdoctoral fellow at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. "The longitudinal aspect of this study suggests that sleep may influence physical activity."

The study was based on analysis of the data retrieved from the Mind Your Heart Study. The cohort study included 736 outpatients who were recruited from two Department of Veterans Affair medical centers.

Using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale, they assessed the PTSD in patients. The participants rated their sleep quality overall during the last month, at baseline and then one year later. The level of physical activity during the last month was reported. Out of 736 military veteran participants, 258 had current or subsyndromal PTSD.

"This study adds to the literature that shows that better sleep leads to healthier levels of exercise, and previous research has shown that better sleep leads to healthier food choices," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. "It is clear that healthy sleep is an essential ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life."

The finding also increases the possibility that sleep problems could affect individual's willingness or ability to implement physical activity behavioral interventions. Improvement in quality of sleep boosts exercise participation.

The finding was documented in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

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