The Association of Sleep Duration, Mental Health, and Health Risk Behaviors among U.S. Afghanistan/Iraq Era Veterans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Study objectives

Short and long sleep duration have been linked with higher rates of comorbid medical and mental health issues, as well as increased mortality. The current study examined the association between sleep duration, mental health problems, and health risk behaviors in a large sample of U.S. Afghanistan/Iraq era veterans.




Mid-Atlantic VA Medical Center(s).


The sample (N = 1,640) included 20% women (n = 333) and had an average age of 37 years (SD = 10.0).



Measurements and results

Results from logistic regression analyses that included age, minority status, gender, military rank, number of deployments, combat exposure, and health risk behaviors as covariates indicated that very short sleep duration (≤ 5 h of sleep) and long sleep duration (≥ 9 h) were each associated with increased odds of current post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and smoking; while poor sleep quality was associated with PTSD, panic disorder (PD), MDD, suicidal ideation (SI), and risky drinking.


Sleep duration may be an important marker for psychiatric and health risk behavior problems, and our results suggest that clinical assessment of sleep disturbance in this veteran group is warranted to assess for both short and long sleep.


Swinkels CM; Ulmer CS; Beckam JC; Buse N; the VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Registry Workgroup; Calhoun PS. The association of sleep duration, mental health, and health risk behaviors among U.S. Afghanistan/Iraq era veterans. SLEEP 2013;36(7):1019-1025.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Swinkels, CM; Ulmer, CS; Beckham, JC; Buse, N; Calhoun, PS

Published Date

  • July 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1019 - 1025

PubMed ID

  • 23814338

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3669061

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1550-9109

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0161-8105

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.5665/sleep.2800


  • eng