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Volume 15 No. 09
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Predicting Attentional Impairment in Women With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Using Self-Reported and Objective Measures of Sleep

Kimberly B. Werner, PhD1; Kimberly A. Arditte Hall, PhD2; Michael G. Griffin, PhD3; Tara E. Galovski, PhD2,4
1University of Missouri – St. Louis, Missouri Institute of Mental Health, Saint Louis, Missouri; 2National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts; 3Department of Psychology, Center for Trauma Recovery, University of Missouri – Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri; 4Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts

Study Objectives:

There is growing evidence to support sleep impairment as a core feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleep impairment in PTSD is associated with severe distress and poorer treatment outcomes. Therefore, specific attention to this symptom of PTSD is warranted and accurate assessment of sleep impairment is critical. The current study investigated the association between self-reported and objective assessment of sleep and sustained attention in women with PTSD.


Study participants include 50 treatment-seeking, female, interpersonal violence survivors who have PTSD. Nocturnal sleep duration was measured with self-report sleep diaries and objective actigraphy assessment over the course of 7 nights. Sustained attention during daytime was measured by the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT).


Results indicated that self-reported nocturnal sleep duration, but not objective or global sleep quality measures, best predicted attentional deficits as indicated by lapses and inverse reaction time on the PVT. Daily sleep diaries predicted 19% and 14% of the variance in attentional lapses and inverse reaction time, respectively.


In a sample of women with PTSD, self-reported nocturnal sleep duration predicted deficits in sustained attention. Conversely, sleep duration as measured by actigraphy and global sleep quality, did not predict sustained attention. Findings suggest that assessing sleep impairment on a daily basis may provide clinically relevant information in evaluating daytime symptoms and provide guidance in targeting this particularly troublesome symptom in the treatment of PTSD.


Werner KB, Arditte Hall KA, Griffin MG, Galovski TE. Predicting attentional impairment in women with posttraumatic stress disorder using self-reported and objective measures of sleep. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(9):1329–1336.

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