All News

Faculty Publication: Assistant Professor of Psychology Laura Grafe

December 1, 2023
Professor of Psychology Laura Grafe

The Importance of REM Sleep Fragmentation in the Effects of Stress on Sleep: Perspectives From Preclinical Studies

Authors: Laura Grafe, Katherine E. Miller, Richard J. Ross, Seema Bhatnagar

Source: Neurobiology of Stress, Volume 28, January 2024,

Publication Type: Journal Article

Abstract: Psychological stress poses a risk for sleep disturbances. Importantly, trauma-exposed individuals who develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently report insomnia and recurrent nightmares. Clinical studies have provided insight into the mechanisms of these sleep disturbances. We review polysomnographic findings in PTSD and identify analogous measures that have been made in animal models of PTSD. There is a rich empirical and theoretical literature on rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) substrates of insomnia and nightmares, with an emphasis on REMS fragmentation. For future investigations of stress-induced sleep changes, we recommend a focus on tonic, phasic and other microarchitectural REMS measures. Power spectral density analysis of the sleep EEG should also be utilized. Animal models with high construct validity can provide insight into gender and time following stressor exposure as moderating variables. Ultimately, preclinical studies with translational potential will lead to improved treatment for stress-related sleep disturbances.