VAntage Point: How sleep is affected by traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder.

My research particularly benefits Veterans because they are disproportionately affected by TBI and PTSD – both of which can cause sleep problems. For example, my team recently discovered that Veterans who are diagnosed with a TBI or PTSD are at greater risk for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD), which causes violent movement during the REM stage of sleep.

RBD has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. However, we still don’t know whether Veterans with RBD are also at higher risk of Parkinson’s disease – and if so, how might TBI/PTSD trigger this neurodegeneration? These are incredibly important questions that need to be answered for the sake of understanding what our Veterans are going through.