Greater sleep disturbance and longer sleep onset latency facilitate SCR-specific fear reinstatement in PTSD
Zuj, DV and Palmer, MA and Malhi, GS and Bryant, RA and Felmingham, KL, Greater sleep disturbance and longer sleep onset latency facilitate SCR-specific fear reinstatement in PTSD, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 110 pp. 1-10. ISSN 0005-7967 (2018) [Refereed Article]
Fear reinstatement is one of several paradigms designed to measure fear return following extinction, as a laboratory model for the relapse of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Sleep is a key factor in emotional memory consolidation, and here we examined the relationship between sleep quality and fear reinstatement in PTSD, relative to trauma-exposed and non-exposed controls. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used as a subjective measure of sleep quality, and skin conductance responses (SCR) and unconditioned stimulus (US)-expectancy ratings were used to index threat responses during a differential fear conditioning, extinction, and reinstatement paradigm. There were no significant between-group differences in the reinstatement of conditioned responding. Sleep disturbance and sleep onset latency were significant moderators between reinstatement of fear and PTSD symptom severity, such that there was a positive relationship between PTSD symptoms and fear reinstatement for higher levels - but not lower levels - of sleep disturbance and sleep onset latency. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate PTSD-specific reinstatement patterns and sleep as a boundary condition of reinstatement. Future research using polysomnographic measures of sleep-wave architecture may further clarify the relationship between fear reinstatement and sleep quality in clinical samples with PTSD relative to controls.