Klinische Psychologie




The Role of Trauma-Related Sleep Disturbances in PTSD


Gabriela Werner, Anna Kunze, Thomas Ehring


Prof. Dr.med. Martin Sack, Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie, Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Tagesklinik;
Dr. Philipp Sckopke, Lehrstuhl für Psychologische Methodenlehre und Diagnostik, LMU München


About every second person experiences at least one traumatic event during lifetime, with prevalence rates in Europe between 54 and 60.6% (Atwoli, Stein, Koenen, & McLaughlin, 2015). After experiencing such an extremely disturbing and often life threatening situation many people will exhibit sleep disturbances, and among those who develop clinically relevant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) up to 90% describe one or more sleep-related symptoms, for example difficulties to fall asleep or maintain sleep, early morning awakenings or recurrent nightmares (Harvey, Jones, & Schmidt, 2003). Recently, also a construct called fear of sleep (e.g., because of nightmares or the feeling of loss of control) gained increased attention within this concept of trauma-related sleep disturbances (Pruiksma et al., 2014). However, basic knowledge about the underlying mechanisms of sleep disturbances in PTSD (e.g., fear of sleep) and the temporal relationship between sleep-related symptoms and PTSD symptoms are still lacking (Babson & Feldner, 2010; Cox, Tuck, & Olatunji, 2017).

Our group is currently conducting a series of studies investigating fear of sleep as specific characteristic of trauma-related sleep disturbances, partly in collaboration with Prof. Dr. med. Martin Sack (Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Munich).

Related publications from our group

Related preregistrations and the German Version of the Fear of Sleep Inventory can be found on the homepage of the Open Science Framework:

  • Drexl, K., Kunze, A. E., & Werner, G. G. (in press). The German Version of the Fear of Sleep Inventory - Short Form: A Psychometric Study. European Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejtd.2019.05.004
  • Werner, G. G., Metodiev, S., Drexl, K., & Kunze, A. E. (2017). Fear of Sleep - Relevance of the Construct for Trauma-Induced Insomnia. Retrieved May 19, 2017, from osf.io/vumh6
  • Werner, G.G. (2017). FSP – Fear of Sleep in PTSD. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from osf.io/m6pvq