Veterans, sleep, mental health, traumatic brain injury


Adequate sleep is essential for health, social participation, and wellbeing. We use 2010 and 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data (N = 35,602) to examine differences in sleep adequacy between: non-veterans; non-combat veterans with no psychiatric diagnosis or traumatic brain injury (TBI); combat veterans with no psychiatric diagnosis or TBI; and veterans (non-combat and combat combined) with a psychiatric diagnosis and/or TBI. On average, respondents reported 9.28 days of inadequate sleep; veterans with a psychiatric diagnosis and/or TBI reported the most—12.25 days. Multivariate analyses indicated that veterans with a psychiatric diagnosis and/or TBI had significantly more days of inadequate sleep than all other groups. Findings contribute to a growing literature on the relevance of the military service–psychiatric diagnosis–TBI nexus for sleep problems by using population-representative data and non-veteran and healthy veteran comparison groups. This research underscores the importance of screening and treating veterans for sleep problems, and can be used by social workers and health professionals to advocate for increased education and research about sleep problems among veterans with mental health problems and/or TBI.

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