While the number of veterans experiencing sleep disorders is growing, spouses of military personnel also suffer from sleep problems, according to findings presented at Sleep 2016, a joint meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society held June 11-15 in Denver.
“Spouses of military service members experience numerous stressors that may place them at high risk for sleep disturbances,” says Wendy Troxel, senior behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corp.
As part of the Deployment Life Study, 1,480 female spouses of deployable military members completed self-reports regarding sleep, physical health, marital satisfaction and depression.
Researchers found that 44% of spouses reported sleeping six hours or less per night. As a result, 54% said their sleep problems caused daytime impairment and 62% reported feeling fatigue during the day at least once or twice a week.
Not surprisingly, those married to military personnel who were currently or previously deployed reported poorer sleep and more fatigue than spouses of members who were never deployed.
“These results are important because we know very little about sleep problems among military spouses,” Troxel says. “Promoting sleep health may be an important strategy for enhancing military families’ adjustment in the post-deployment period. This is particularly relevant given that the past 14 years of protracted overseas combat have exacted an unprecedented toll on U.S. service members and their families.”