Perceived Sleep Quality Mediates the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress and Somatic Symptoms

Saankari A. Challa, Robert Graziano, David R. Strasshofer, Kamila S. White, Gregory S. Sayuk, Steven E. Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) have been associated with increased somatic symptom expression. Sleep concerns have been associated with PTSS and somatic symptoms. Previous research suggests that sleep affects multiple domains of functioning including comorbid psychological and physical health concerns. The current study examines whether perceived sleep quality or sleep efficiency/ duration may be mediating the relationship between PTSS and somatic symptoms in a trauma-exposed sample. Method: The sample consisted of 864 students, recruited from a large Midwestern university and compensated with research participation credit. Data were collected online over approximately 39 months (October 2015 through January 2019), and the pertinent scales examined in this study included Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, and Screening for Somatoform Symptoms-7. Results: Of the 864 students, 668 participants identified as female (77.3%) and 540 identified as non-Hispanic White (62.5%), with an overall average age of 23.14 years (SD = 6.64). Mediation analyses indicated that the overall model examining global sleep quality complaints as a mechanism of the relationship between PTSS and somatic symptoms was significant, F(3, 860) = 193.97, R2 = .40, p < .001, and that perceived sleep quality was found to be the only significant specific mediator (indirect effect = .21). Although females reported greater somatic severity, PTSS, and sleep concerns, models were significant, even after examining the influence of gender. Conclusions: Global sleep complaints are associated with both PTSS and somatic symptoms. Perceived sleep quality specifically mediated the relationship between PTSS and somatic symptoms, highlighting a potential intervention for improving physical health consequences in trauma-exposed individuals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Females
  • Posttraumatic stress symptoms
  • Sleep
  • Somatic severity
  • Trauma

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