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Brain Injuries Have a Damaging Effect on Sleep

This content has been reviewed by Jason D. Stone.

Brain injuries have profound consequences. Personality changes, mood swings, memory problems—these are just a few of the ways that a brain injury can change a person’s life for the worse. A recent study has shown another way these injuries negatively affect victims: sleep problems.

What a New Study Tells Us About Sleep and Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify a mild TBI as a “brief change in mental status or consciousness,” often as the result of a blow or jolt to the head. Concussions are considered mild TBIs.

Researchers studied patients who had suffered mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) to determine effects on sleep need, sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and overall fatigue at two weeks, three months, and 12 months following an injury.

They found that many of their test subjects who had experienced a mild TBI needed more sleep and had poorer sleep quality than people who hadn’t suffered a TBI.  They also experienced both excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Though some patients saw improvements for some of these sleep problems in the three to 12 months following their injuries, others continued to experience them for a full year after their injuries.

This research is significant because it examined the effects of only mild TBIs. However, several other studies have examined the effects of sleep among patients who have suffered a wide range of brain injury severities, and the results are similar.

What Earlier Studies Have Shown About Brain Injuries and Sleep Problems

Previous research has determined that 30 to 70% of TBI (both mild and severe) sufferers report problems with sleep. The most common complaints are of insomnia, fatigue, and sleepiness. Other difficulties reported by TBI sufferers include narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and periodic limb movement disorder.

Depression, anxiety, and chronic pain are some of the most common side effects of brain injuries, all of which can also disrupt sleep. Whether TBI sufferers experience sleep problems directly because of their injuries or indirectly through effects like pain, depression, and anxiety, it’s clear that sleep disruption is a common and serious problem in the aftermath of a brain injury.

The Consequences of Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep disruption has both short- and long-term consequences. A few of the most common short-term effects include:

  • Stress
  • Psychosocial issues, such as anxiety, depression, and memory problems
  • Somatic issues, such as general pain and shortness of breath

Long-term effects of sleep disruption include:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Death

Combined with the other complications associated with brain injuries, these effects can lead to severe health problems. As this most recent study shows, even milder brain injuries can have lingering, serious effects on sufferers’ health.

Poor sleep can also impact a person’s ability to perform their work duties or operate a vehicle safely, putting them at risk of experiencing work injuries or auto accidents.

When Another Person’s Negligence Causes Your TBI, You Have Legal Options

TBIs can happen as a result of vehicle accidents, workplace injuries, or in slip and fall accidents. In many of these cases, the injured person is hurt because of someone else’s negligence. It’s important for these TBI victims to understand that they don’t have to foot the bill for another person’s mistakes.

A brain injury can be costly on many levels, leading to expensive medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. By filing a personal injury claim, you can recover these costs and get the tools you need to cope with the challenges you face.

If you’re considering taking legal action after suffering a brain injury, contact the Boston brain injury attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today. We offer free consultations, and you owe us nothing unless we win you compensation.

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