New PTSD sleep pattern research completed

Jacob Runnels

A team of graduate and undergraduate students has concluded their research on the relationships between sleep patterns, smoking and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“What we did was analyze the research question of ‘how does smoking affect the relationship between PTSD symptoms and sleep quality?’” Celeste Weise, a senior psychology major, said. “We were able to find that smoking did in fact… explain the relationship between PTSD symptoms and sleep disturbances.”

Weise prepared the research, which was presented at the Undergraduate Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity on March 11.

Weise has been working on this research since the start of the Fall 2014 semester, working under Brian Smith, the graduate student leader of the research team.

“Celeste has been working in our lab for a while now,” said Smith, a graduate experimental psychology major. “She expressed interest in doing some research and to run her own study.”

Smith said that PTSD is related to poor sleep quality, and PTSD symptoms are also related to addictive behaviors, such as smoking. Weise’s hypotheses were based on extensive literature she had to review concerning PTSD.

Doug Delahanty, a psychology professor and mentor for this research project, said that with Smith in charge, Weise was in charge of recruiting people for the study.

Delahanty, director of the Initiative for Clinical and Translational Research, also said that Smith has been working on many research topics in the past now, ranging from assessing people immediately after traumatic injury, assessing sleep behaviors and assessing smoking behaviors and cravings.

“We’ve been interested for years now how PTSD affects sleep,” Delahanty said. “All of those things are interesting in the short term to determine whether there are things you can do soon after an event to try to help out folks who are going to be at risk. That’s kind of the motivating aspect for the idea.”

Smith said that while he ran the statistical analyses he challenged Weise to come up with questions that would justify the answers presented.

“I had her kind of conceptualize what we were going to do,” Smith said. “Then I showed her how to run the statistical analyses.”

From this research, Weise said she has learned many valuable skills, such as preparing a research paper and poster for presentation and conceptualizing and analyzing data.

Although Weise didn’t win the symposium where she presented the research, she said that winning wasn’t the real reward.

“This really is the nitty-gritty stuff you have to learn to get a job,” Weise said. “Even if I wasn’t going into graduate school, that kind of experience… would set me apart from those applying for a post-bachelor’s (degree) job.”

Contact Jacob Runnels at [email protected].