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New survey aims to fix veterans’ sleep problems

WASHINGTON – Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the veterans wellness firm VetAdvisor are teaming up to see if they can help returning veterans get a little more rest.

The groups this week launched a new national sleep survey of veterans, looking for ways to battle problems like insomnia or excessive fatigue. The goal of the research is to better map the most common struggles among past and current servicemembers, and find solutions to the sleeplessness.

Dan Frank, CEO of VetAdvisor, said they hope to get at least 5,000 participants to complete the online survey. The consulting firm works with corporate human resources on ways to recruit and retain veterans into the workplace, and he said better knowledge of the problems they face could lead to better treatment options.

“One aim of the survey is to determine if coaching were available would they seek it out,” he said. “We want to take that information to demonstrate approaches to extend the reach of both VA and active duty preventative care services.”

Previous research has found that sleep troubles are common in returning combat veterans, even among those who aren’t dealing with other serious conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries.

Dr. Michael Smith, director of the university’s Center for Behavior and Health, said the online survey is aimed at determining the multiple potential causes of sleep disturbances in veterans and troops, and understanding whether stigmas or bureaucracy might discourage those sufferers from seeking help.

Questions include whether those surveyed would be open to the idea of a sleep coach, someone who helps track rest patterns and can act as a counselor in finding solutions.

For more information, visit the study’s web site at www.vetsleep.org.

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