Treatment of sleep disturbances in post-traumatic stress disorder


Sleep disturbances are very common in patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can have various negative sequelae, including worsening of perceived levels of stress, depression, and suicidal ideation.1,2. Although PTSD treatment can lead to improved sleep in some patients, there are a number of patients whose sleep disturbances do not remit even after treatment1 and can persist long after the original trauma.3 There are various non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment modalities that have been studied. Non-pharmacological therapies include image rehearsal therapy (IRT), cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI), prolonged exposure (PE), and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Pharmacological studies include alpha-1-adrenergic receptor antagonists, alpha-adrenergic agonists, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), other antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, sedative hypnotics, and antiepileptics. The therapies with the most evidence to support their use are Image Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) and the alpha-1-adrenergic receptor antagonist, prazosin.






Megan Tomas

Original Work Citation

Tomas, M. (2014, March). Treatment of sleep disturbances in post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental Health Clinician, 4(2)



“Treatment of sleep disturbances in post-traumatic stress disorder,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed March 4, 2021,

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