A retrospective study on improvements in nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder following treatment for co-morbid sleep-disordered breathing

Barry Krakow, Carmen Lowry, Anne Germain, Lane Gaddy, Michael Hollifield, Mary Koss, Dan Tandberg, Lisa Johnston, Dominic Melendrez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the impact of treatment for co-morbid sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) on patients with nightmares and post-traumatic stress. Methods: Twenty-three chronic nightmare sufferers (15 with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD) who also suffered co-morbid SDB (obstructive sleep apnea, OSA, n = 16; upper airway resistance syndrome, UARS, n = 7) completed a telephone interview, on average, 21 months after having been offered treatment for SDB at a university sleep disorders clinic. Results: At follow-up, 14 reported maintaining treatment (Treatment Group) and 9 reported discontinuing treatment (No-Treatment Group). More patients in the Treatment Group reported improvement in sleep (93% vs. 33%) and in daytime well being (93% vs. 33%) compared with those in the No-Treatment group. The Treatment Group reported a median improvement in nightmares of 85% compared with a median 10% worsening in the No-Treatment Group. In the PTSD subset (n = 15), nine in the Treatment Group reported a median 75% improvement in PTSD symptoms whereas six in the No-Treatment Group reported a median 43% worsening. Conclusion: In this small sample of patients, treatment of SDB was associated with improvements in nightmares and PTSD. Relationships between nightmares, PTSD and SDB are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000



  • Nightmares
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • PTSD
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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