Sleep, resilience, and psychological distress in United States military Veterans
Sleep problems are prevalent among Veterans. Left untreated, such problems may elevate psychological distress and increase risk of subsequent mental health disorders. Psychological resilience may buffer against negative psychological outcomes, yet the relationship between sleep and resilience has not been studied. This study explored poor sleep, resilience, and psychological distress using questionnaires collected as part of the Study of Post-Deployment Mental Health. Participants (N = 1,118) had served in the US military since September 11, 2001, had one or more overseas deployments, and were free from a past-month DSM-defined mental health disorder. Hierarchical linear regression was used to examine the association between poor sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index total score) and psychological distress (Global Symptom Index; Symptom Checklist-90-R), controlling for demographic and health characteristics. Moderation analyses tested for a potential buffering effect of resilience (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale). Poor sleeping Veterans had worse physical and psychological health, lower resilience, and endorsed more lifetime traumatic events. Poor sleep was associated with greater psychological distress controlling for health and demographic characteristics. Both resilience factors—adaptability and self-efficacy—had significant buffering effects on the relationship between poor sleep and psychological distress, suggesting that resilience may protect against negative outcomes in poor sleepers. Additional research is warranted to better understand the relationships between sleep, resilience, and psychological distress. Such research may inform pertinent prevention efforts, including interventions that improve sleep, enhance resilience, and protect against incident mental health diagnoses.
Hughes, JM; Ulmer, CS; Hastings, SN; Gierisch, JM; Mid-Atlantic VA MIRECC Workgroup, ; Howard, MO
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