A Psychiatric Times report explores the issue of sleep-related problems, such as sleep disturbances, following a traumatic brain injury.
Sleep disturbances can occur during both the acute and chronic phases of injury. Acute posttrauma phase sleep problems have the potential to interfere with neuronal recovery that may be complicated further by treatment with medications, such as benzodiazepines and haloperidol, which can be detrimental to the recovering nervous system. In the subacute and chronic phases, daytime drowsiness can impair participation in rehabilitation while nighttime wakefulness is often associated with psychiatric problems, behavioral dyscontrol syndromes, and overall poorer quality of life.
Patients with all severities of TBI are at risk for sleep problems, although some studies have noted increased rates with mild compared with severe TBI.4-6 However, these findings may be due to a lack of awareness or underreporting in persons with severe TBI, or perhaps because of the increased sensitivity to changes after mild TBI. Some findings suggest that there are changes in polysomnographic measures following TBI, such as longer sleep onset latencies, shorter REM onset latencies, frequent nighttime awakenings, and higher proportion of stage 1 sleep.7-10