Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning and occurs because of experiencing a jolt or blow to one’s head. The symptoms that manifest because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. It is not uncommon for an individual who has suffered from a TBI to struggle with sleep disturbances. A manuscript entitled Traumatic Brain Injury and Sleep Disorders discusses findings that suggest sleep disorders are three times more common in TBI patients than the general population. It further goes on to assert that nearly 60% of individuals that have had a TBI will experience long-term difficulties with sleep.
Types of Sleep Issues
Sleep is a necessary and complex process that requires the use of many areas of the brain. For this reason, a TBI can greatly interfere with one’s ability to achieve meaningful and restful sleep. Common examples sleep disorders and syndromes that could manifest because of a TBI include, but are not limited to the following:
- Insomnia: difficulty falling and/ or remaining asleep
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS): uncontrollable urge to move one’s legs due to uncomfortable sensation, typically occurring at night or when laying down
- Sleep apnea: sporadic pauses in breathing during sleep, which results in reduced oxygen flow to one’s brain
- Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): involuntary periodic, repetitive movements of the legs, arms and/ or feet while sleeping
- Sleepwalking: unconsciously walking and/ or performing other activities while actively sleeping
- Bruxism: grinding, gnashing and/ or clenching teeth
- Narcolepsy: suddenly and uncontrollably falling asleep during the day
The brain facilitates sleep by directing the body to rest. Injury to the brain can undoubtedly lead to changes in one’s sleep. As indicated by the examples above, there are a variety of sleep issues that could be precipitated by a TBI.
For Information and Support
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