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Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Lead to Sleep Disorders

Updated May 2, 2022 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

It’s not uncommon to have a hard time sleeping after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). If you were injured in a serious accident, that anxiety and fear alone could be enough to keep you up at night. However, it could be more serious than stress.

Many parts of the brain control how you sleep and when you wake up. An accident could alter your sleeping patterns and lead to multiple and long-lasting health problems. Documenting and treating your sleep disturbances is an important step toward recovering and moving forward with your life—and keeping track of this information could help your attorney build a case for you in the aftermath of an accident.

What Leads to Sleep Problems After a TBI

Sleep disorders are about three times more likely to occur in TBI patients than in the general population. So what causes these problems? It depends on the nature of the injury, but on the whole, sleep disruptions are caused by damage to brain structures that impact sleep, causing them to malfunction.

The damage could be physical or chemical: The brain functions as an internal clock for the body, and an injury could interfere with its ability to send appropriate signals to the rest of the body. An injury to another part of the brain could lead to breathing problems at night, which can lead to sleep apnea.

Some chemicals that the brain produces, like the hormone melatonin, can affect how a patient sleeps. Pain, depression, and substances like medication, alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine can all contribute to problems sleeping as well.

Types of Sleep Problems and Syndromes

Patients could experience sleep disruptions no matter where they were injured or how serious their injury was, and not everyone will experience the same symptoms. These are some of the most common disorders and disruptions to sleeping that a patient could experience:

  • Insomnia, which is difficulty falling or staying asleep, or feeling inadequate rested after sleep
  • Extreme daytime drowsiness
  • Mixed-up or delayed sleep patterns
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless leg syndrome, keeping you from resting comfortably
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Involuntary limb movement during sleep
  • Sleepwalking

Sleep Problem Solutions and Treatments

There is a reason why we get tired and are always told to get enough sleep. Our bodies and brains need sleep in order to rest, recharge, and heal, which is especially important in the aftermath of a head injury. There is a strong correlation between sleep and concussion recovery since sleep plays a large role in brain functions. Going without enough sleep can decrease energy levels and concentration as well as worsen depression or anxiety and affect your mood. If you can’t sleep, there are a number of treatments your doctor might recommend.

Depending on the nature of your injury, your doctor could advise you about medications, some of which can be habit-forming. Counseling could help with symptoms of depression and anxiety, and relaxation therapy could have a positive impact as well.

In general, keep a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine, stay as active as your health permits during the day, try to keep your bedroom a restful and relaxing place, and don’t exercise, eat sugar, drink caffeine, or use nicotine within the five-hour period before you sleep.

Getting treated for sleep disorders could lead to unwanted medical expenses, but an attorney may be able to fight for a settlement that covers your medical care after your accident.

Contact a Brain Injury Attorney Today

Any injury to your head will impact your quality of life. Sleep disorders are just one of the many ways that a traumatic brain injury can change your life. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a brain injury, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Brain Injury Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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