People who suffered a TBI may still have sleep problems for up to a year and a half after, new research shows. What’s more, the study published online in Neurology, found that many people with these brain injuries may be unaware of how much their sleep is disrupted. For the study, researchers from the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland followed 31 people who had experienced TBIs — ranging from mild to severe — for a total of 18 months. They also monitored a group of 42 healthy people for the same period of time as a basis for comparison.
All participants were asked to self-report the number of hours they slept, as well as their level of daytime sleepiness. They performed detailed sleep assessments on their subjects, including two weeks of a device worn on the wrist that measures body movement and a night in a sleep video lab, to measure brain activity, eye movements, muscle activity, and heart rhythm. They also administered a test to evaluate daytime sleepiness, measured by how quickly people fall asleep in a quiet environment during the day.
An analysis of the data showed that 67 percent of those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury experienced excessive daytime sleepiness, compared to 19 percent of those in the healthy group. However, those with traumatic brain injury didn’t report feeling any sleepier than those without head injuries when asked how tired they were during the day. The results also showed that people with a history of TBI slept longer — an average of eight hours per night, compared to seven in the other group.