(ANTIMEDIA) Calling it a nightmare scenario may be an understatement. Traumatic sleep disorder, or TSD, a violent condition afflicting Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, is not officially classified in medical texts — but one Army doctor wants to change that.
Also known as “trauma associated sleep disorder,” TSD causes combat veterans to unconsciously and destructively lash out in what Army Colonel Vincent Mysliwiec, MD, describes as “dream-enactment behaviors.”
Mysliwiec shared his latest sleep research findings with the Army News Service this week, saying a colleague documented the latest case this month at the Madigan Army Medical Center’s sleep laboratory at Joint Base Lewis in McChord, Washington.
Sporadic reports of TSD popped up during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the first documented case “in probably 30 years” occurred at the Madigan sleep lab in 2013, Mysliwiec said.
It was a “‘Rosetta Stone’ moment,” Mysliwiec explained, “because we heard similar reports beginning in 2007 with soldiers returning from combat. They’d be telling us these things, and we didn’t know what this disorder was.”
TSD sufferers “strike out, scream, yell at their spouse and even run around their bed and at times hurt themselves or others,” he said.
In 2014, Mysliwiec told the American Forces Network that his treatment of TSD patients included making sure they had no weapons in their bedroom and even separating patients from their spouses or sleeping partners due to the dangers the outbursts posed.
Mysliwiec is pushing for the disorder to be added to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders 3, a manual for diagnosing sleep disorders, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5, the authoritative guide for psychologists and psychiatrists.
He and his team, now based out of the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Educational Consortium at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, are preparing three TSD presentations for the 31st annual SLEEP 2017 conference this June in Boston, the Army News Service reported. The event is organized by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
Mysliwiec will also reportedly release a new TSD study in 2018, a follow-up to this 2014 research titled “Trauma Associated Sleep Disorder: A Proposed Parasomnia Encompassing Disruptive Nocturnal Behaviors, Nightmares, and REM without Atonia in Trauma Survivors,” published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
In the meantime, some TSD patients are being prescribed prazosin, a sympatholytic drug that treats post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, Mysliwiec told the Army News Service.
“If you have PTSD, your body may release too much adrenaline,” he said. “Adrenaline is a hormone that can make you feel stressed and contribute to nightmares as well as abnormal behaviors in sleep. Prazosin blocks some of the effects of adrenaline released in your body.”