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Research & Studies

Sleep Management in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Citation (APA style): Maher, A. R., Apaydin, E. A., Hilton, L., Chen, C., Troxel, W., Hall, O., . . . Hempel, S. (2021). Sleep management in posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine, 87, 203-219. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2021.08.016


Objective: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can lead to many negative secondary outcomes for patients, including sleep disturbances. The objective of this meta-analysis is (1) to evaluate the effect of interventions for adults with PTSD on sleep outcomes, PTSD outcomes, and adverse events, and (2) to evaluate the differential effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve sleep compared to those that do not.

Methods: Nine databases were searched for relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in PTSD from January 1980 to October 2019. Two independent reviewers screened 7,176 records, assessed 2,139 full-text articles, and included 89 studies in 155 publications for this review. Sleep, PTSD, and adverse event outcomes were abstracted and meta-analyses were performed using the Hartung-Knapp-Sidik-Jonkman method for random effects.

Results: Interventions improved sleep outcomes (standardized mean difference [SMD] −0.56; confidence interval [CI] −0.75 to −0.37; 49 RCTs) and PTSD symptoms (SMD -0.48; CI -0.67 to −0.29; 44 RCTs) across studies. Adverse events were not related to interventions overall (RR 1.17; CI 0.91 to 1.49; 15 RCTs). Interventions targeting sleep improved sleep outcomes more than interventions that did not target sleep (p=0.03). Improvement in PTSD symptoms did not differ between intervention types.

Conclusions: Interventions for patients with PTSD significantly improve sleep outcomes, especially interventions that specifically target sleep. Treatments for adults with PTSD directed towards sleep improvement may benefit patients who suffer from both ailments.


PTSD, sleep, meta-analysis, systematic review