July 16, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
A new study shows that worse sleep quality predicts lower physical activity in people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Results show that PTSD was independently associated with worse sleep quality at baseline, and participants with current PTSD at baseline had lower physical activity one year later.
"We found that sleep quality was more strongly associated with physical activity one year later than was having a diagnosis of PTSD," said lead author Lisa Talbot, postdoctoral fellow at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. "The longitudinal aspect of this study suggests that sleep may influence physical activity."
Further analysis found that sleep quality completely mediated the relationship between baseline PTSD status and physical activity at the one-year follow-up, providing preliminary evidence that the association of reduced sleep quality with reduced physical activity could comprise a behavioral link to negative health outcomes such as obesity.
"This study adds to the literature that shows that better sleep leads to healthier levels of exercise, and previous research has shown that better sleep leads to healthier food choices," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. "It is clear that healthy sleep is an essential ingredient in the recipe for a healthy life."
"The findings also tentatively raise the possibility that sleep problems could affect individuals' willingness or ability to implement physical activity behavioral interventions," she said. "Sleep improvements might encourage exercise participation."
According to the National Center for PTSD of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD symptoms such as nightmares or flashbacks usually start soon after a traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. Symptoms that last longer than four weeks, cause great distress or interfere with daily life may be a sign of PTSD.