At-Home Partner Sleep Functioning Over the Course of Military Deployment

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Abstract

Although the negative effects of deployment on the health of military spouses have been studied, research on sleep disruptions remains limited. This study investigates trajectories of sleep complaints over the course of deployment and predictors of these changes among a cohort of at-home partners. Data were drawn from the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS-2) project, a prospective, longitudinal study of National Guard soldiers deployed to Iraq/Kuwait (2011–2012) and their intimate partners. Spouses or cohabiting partners (N = 686) of soldiers completed assessments of risk/protective factors 2 to 5 months before their partners’ deployment (Time 1), 4 months (Time 2) and 8 months (Time 3) into the deployment, and 2 to 3 months following the soldiers’ return (Time 4). Latent class growth analyses (LCGA) revealed quadratic change in partners’ sleep over the deployment cycle, characterized by 4 distinct trajectories: resilient (61%), deployment-onset sleep problems (22%), deployment improvement (10%), and chronic (7%) groups. Predeployment and during deployment predictors of partners’ sleep complaints varied by group and included negative emotionality, depression symptoms, alcohol use, low negative communication, and family stressors. Understanding the course of sleep complaints and potentially modifiable risk-factors among at-home partners during deployment may be useful for prevention and targeted intervention efforts.

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