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Sleep Disorders After Traumatic Brain Injury: What You Need To Know

Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury

Seek treatment from an experienced neurologist if you’re recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Contact our clinic today to schedule an appointment. 

Did you know the connection between traumatic brain injury and sleep disorders is quite common? If you suffer from a head injury and have problems falling asleep, it’s time to consult with a professional for treatment. You can work with a qualified neurologist in New York when you visit Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. 

Learn how a traumatic brain injury (TBI) alters your brain’s ability to regulate sleep patterns and what you can do to improve your sleep. 

How a Traumatic Brain Injury Impacts Normal Functions

Head injuries are extremely serious, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 190 Americans die every day because of a traumatic brain injury and its complications. They significantly impair a person’s ability to carry out daily functions and impact both long-term and short-term memory retention. 

Other symptoms of a TBI include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Neurological deficits like slurred speech and loss of balance or motor functions
  • Mental confusion
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

The connection between traumatic brain injury and sleep disorders proves especially harmful for patients. Let’s dive deeper into how TBIs impact sleep. 

Traumatic Brain Injury and Sleep Disorders: Key Facts and Figures

How does a TBI directly impact your sleep patterns? A sudden impact injury or blunt trauma to the head alters the brain’s ability to produce and release melatonin, the body’s main hormone for regulating sleep. According to Saint Luke’s Health System, as many as 70% of TBI patients experience sleep disorders because of this change in brain chemistry. 

Some of the most common sleep issues that TBI survivors face include:

  • Insomnia: The inability to fall or stay asleep. 
  • Narcolepsy: Falling asleep frequently throughout the day without any control.
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome: Disrupted sleeping patterns that impact your circadian rhythm.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness: Feeling extremely drowsy and fatigued during the day.

Each of these sleep disorders has harmful effects; however, insomnia is especially prevalent and damaging for TBI survivors. Comprehensive studies show that 70% of patients with mild TBIs experience insomnia following their injury. Sleep deprivation hinders one’s ability to recover from a TBI because the brain can’t recharge. 

It’s also possible that TBI patients experience disrupted sleep because of medications or changes in breathing control. Head injuries can impact the brain’s ability to control breathing during sleep and result in a condition called sleep apnea. Prescription medications used to treat other symptoms of a TBI can make patients drowsy during the day and make it more difficult for them to fall asleep at night. 

Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury and Sleep Disorders

Unable to Sleep After Head Injury

 

How can you treat both a traumatic brain injury and the sleep disorders that stem from it? Experts recommend sticking to a specific set of rules for improved sleep while healing from a TBI. The following tips can reduce sleep disturbances since they target harmful changes in one’s behavior and environment.

Daytime Routine

A person’s schedule and activity level during the day impacts how well they sleep at night. If you’re looking to sleep better after a traumatic brain injury, it’s important to exercise and get outdoors every day. Staying active is not only good for your overall health but promotes healthier sleep patterns. 

Be mindful of your daytime activities that are more static. Try to limit your television consumption and set alarms before falling asleep to ensure you don’t nap longer than 20 minutes. Implementing these changes in your daytime routine can limit the effects of sleep disorders like insomnia. 

Nighttime Routine

Healing from a traumatic brain injury and sleep disorders requires a regimented nighttime schedule. Doctors recommend going to bed at the same time each night to establish a consistent circadian rhythm. In addition, create a relaxing and stress-free atmosphere in the bedroom by minimizing noise and light. 

Diet and exercise remain vital parts of a healthy lifestyle, but don’t eat or exercise too close to bedtime. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and sugar to enjoy a better night’s sleep. If you are unable to fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, try listening to relaxing music or a similar activity to lull you to sleep.

Medical Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury and Sleep Disorders

Medical help is available if you still have problems falling or staying asleep at night. Doctors can prescribe medications that promote healthy sleep patterns, such as staying awake and alert during the day and sleeping through the night. 

The Sleep Foundation reports that 80% of people with insomnia see improvements in their sleep patterns after undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy. This is an effective treatment for those who face depression and anxiety as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

Meet With a Top Neurologist in NYC at Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C.

Don’t let a TBI hinder your sleep. Seek treatment from the healthcare professionals at Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. We specialize in treating neurological injuries so you recover quickly.

Call our clinic at (646) 814-1654 to book an appointment. Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sleep Disorders After Traumatic Brain Injury

Receive insight into the connection between a traumatic brain injury and sleep disorders in the questions and answers below. 

How Long Does Insomnia Last After a Head Injury?

Patients can experience insomnia for a few weeks or up to several years after a head injury. Each case depends on the severity of the injury and medical treatment. 

What Neurological Problems Cause Insomnia?

Traumatic brain injuries cause insomnia, as well as conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.

Do People With Head Injuries Need More Sleep?

Yes, one study finds that 22% of people with traumatic brain injury and sleep disorders require two more hours of sleep compared to before their injury. 

If you’re unable to sleep after a head injury, a neurologist can help you overcome challenges with effective treatments for improved sleep. 

About The Author

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.

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