EMDR therapy improves sleep parameters in veteran's soldiers: A longitudinal study


Sleep disorders are a common symptom of PTSD. These disturbances are a clinical factor of severity, and would also contribute to the pathophysiology of the disorder. Numerous studies have measured sleep parameters in PTSD patients. The results are contradictory. Some studies show no difference in the sleep patterns of PTSD and trauma patients. Other studies have found disturbances mainly in REM sleep (rapid eye movement), the duration of which is correlated with the duration of PTSD. Other disturbances concern the increase of the sympathetic activity during sleep, as well as changes in the duration of sleep latencies or different phases of sleep. Studies have shown using questionnaires that the decrease in symptoms is associated with a subjective improvement in patients' sleep. However, EEG parameters changes during before and after EMDR therapy have not been measured. Our objective is therefore to measure the effect of symptom reduction with EMDR therapy on the EEG parameters of sleep, and to test whether sleep parameters in PTSD may be good predictors of the evolution of the therapy.

We registered 14 military patients with PTSD before and after EMDR therapy at their homes using the Actiwave system. We registered also 20 military patients without PTSD twice, at 4 weeks intervals with the same equipment. Recorded parameters included EEG (Cz, PZ), EOG, ECG and EMG.

After treatment, patients show an increase in the number of sleep cycles (p<0.01), their total overall sleep time, N2, N3 stages and REM (p<0.05) and they show a decrease of their latency to fall in REM stage (p<0,05).

For the first time, we show that EMDR therapy changes and improves the EEG parameters of sleep, especially REM sleep. Further studies are needed to confirm these results. The next use of sleep recording as a follow-up to the effectiveness of therapy is to be studied.






Pierre-François Rousseau

Original Work Citation

Rousseau, P. F. (2018, June). EMDR therapy improves sleep parameters in veteran's soldiers: A longitudinal study. Poster presented at the 19th EMDR Europe Conference, Strasbourg, France



“EMDR therapy improves sleep parameters in veteran's soldiers: A longitudinal study,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed March 4, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/25260.

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