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For Some Service Members, Insomnia May Not Be Part Of PTSD
Sleeplessness has historically been considered a secondary symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, but recent research shows that insomnia may be a disorder unto itself.
In 2014, an Army research team, led by Col. Vincent Mysliwiec, suggested the name “trauma-associated sleep disorder,” leading the service to propose it as a separate diagnosis from post-traumatic stress disorder.
He and the Army hope the name will add legitimacy to the diagnosis and lead to better treatment of insomnia among service members and veterans.
Before, it was assumed that treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder would eliminate insomnia. Rather, Mysliwiec suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder may serve as a misdiagnosis in many cases of trauma-associated sleep disorder.
“We knew [service members and veterans] developed insomnia and sleep apnea, but we’ve never seen a truly unique sleep disorder related to a traumatic experience,” Mysliwiec told the Atlantic in a February 2015 article.
Trauma-associated sleep disorders, unlike post-traumatic stress disorder, include a grouping of particular nighttime symptoms such as screaming, thrashing, sleepwalking and nightmares, according to a paper published in the December 2014 issue of American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
The study suggested that sleep disturbances — including insomnia, nightmares, sleep disordered breathing, and periodic limb movement — are more complex than previously considered, and therefore should be treated separately.
In June, at a sleep conference in Seattle, Mysliwiec said, “Insomnia is the signature illness of military service.”
Insufficient sleep has been linked to a number of health issues including impaired cognition, cardiovascular disease, and poor overall health in the general population. But for veterans and service members suffering from trauma-associated sleep disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or traumatic brain injury, the effect of sleeplessness can be much more detrimental.
The researchers with Mysliwiec’s group noted that those suffering from the trauma-associated sleep disorder often act out their nightmares, yelling and fighting in their sleep, opening up opportunities for physical harm.
In addition, they reported to the Army that military spouses often resort to sleeping in separate rooms as they fear bodily injury from nighttime thrashing of their partners.
Although doctors are largely using prescription sleep aids to address insomnia in service members and veterans, treatments in behavioral interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and imagery rehearsal therapy, are beginning to pick up steam.
Jessica Dietch, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Texas, told Task & Purpose in an interview that these methods of treatment are effective, and “they offer a lot of benefits over medication.”
Cognitive-behavioral therapy combats unwanted behavioral patterns by changing the way a person thinks and behaves.
Over the course of typically six weeks, she said, patients practicing cognitive-behavioral therapy tend to see lasting change, adding, “with medication [patients] see a quick response, but if they stop using the medication the symptoms may return.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun suggesting cognitive behavioral treatment for insomnia, and a lot of research is going into coming up with effecting treatment plans, according to Dietch.
However, the long-term effects of prescription medication are still up for debate, with some researchers suggesting it can be linked to later development of dementia.
Overall, reliance on sleep aids is something Dietch said, from a healthcare professional’s viewpoint, should be avoided regardless of the potential long-term effects.
“Training [healthcare] providers to be knowledgeable about insomnia and behavioral treatment options is a vital component to the treatment of chronic insomnia and managing its impact on other disorders,” said the authors of a 2013 report on deployment-related insomnia.
Similar to Dietch, the report calls for more research on methods to increase access to care.
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.
The U.S. Air Force has issued new guidelines for active-duty, reserve and National Guard airmen who are considered non-deployable, and officials will immediately begin flagging those who have been unable to deploy for 12 consecutive months for separation consideration.
A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.
The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.
So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.